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A Red Cross project in South Sudan is reducing the burden of water collection for thousands on women and girls.
By Corrie Butler, IFRC
Water and sanitation is a basic human right for all. Yet, the UN Report on Clean Water and Sanitation suggests water scarcity affects more than 40 per cent of the global population. In countries like South Sudan water and sanitation-related diseases are among the top killers of children under five, even though they are completely preventable.
Six-year old, Mary, reaches for the water pump handle well above her head to fill her large jerry can with water. In one practiced motion, she hoists the jerry can onto her head, balancing it without her hands.
With the help of the South Sudan Red Cross, Mary and more than 500 members in her community have access to clean, drinking water. Mary and her neighbours used to fetch dirty water from a stream a half hour walk away. Now, clean water is on her doorstep.
“The stream was making us sick,” says Victoria Richard, another villager. “In rainy season, the water would get even more dirty and when it was dry, there would be no water at all.”
“Now that we have this borehole, we’re closer to clean water.”
The responsibility of fetching water traditionally falls to women and children in rural South Sudan. They often have to venture far distances on foot at least three times a day.
Michael Charles, Head of Country Office for the IFRC said water can quickly becom the major concern for a community. “We see that more than 90 per cent of the people fetching water are women and girls who must travel long distances,” he said. “We’re here through the power of our volunteer network to help bring water closer to the communities and ensure that women and their families are healthier and safe.”
Better access to safe water globally gives women and girls more opportunity to work or go to school.
With the support of the Government of Japan, the South Sudan Red Cross is reaching 3.1 million people, including 560,000 children under five to help prevent common illnesses in rural communities, including malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea. Thousands of families now have access to clean drinking water in this region through the project with millions more using safer health, sanitation and hygiene practices that keep their families safe and healthy.
See more about World Water Day.
The post Bringing water closer to communities in South Sudan appeared first on International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
Author: Red Cross
Martha does not know her real age but appears to be about 80. She can barely move or perform basic tasks, without support. Luckily, she can rely on her granddaughter who helps her to meet her basic daily needs and does errands for her.
They live in Nicuita-B, in Namuno District, Cabo Delgado—the northernmost province of Mozambique.
A Red Cross team, while conducting a survey on the state of water and sanitation in Nicuita-B village, met Martha and discussed the water situation with her. She said that they did not have running water or latrines: which left them with no choice but to resort to open defacation and get water from small ponds that only fill up on when it rains.
“I’m old and without strength,” said Martha. “My granddaughter has the responsibility to collect water from the small ponds during the rainy season.” The water is dirty and unsanitary but it is all they have. “Sometimes we get sick and have diarrhoea,” she added.
When the ponds and wells are dry, the women in the village are forced to walk for long distances in search of the precious liquid.
In Mozambique, over half of the population—14.8 million people—live without clean water. According to Water Aid, three in four people do not have access to decent toilets making dangerous diarrhoeal diseases and water borne diseases all too common. The situation has grown to almost crisis levels with the poorest people in rural communities being the most affected.
According to UN water statistics, 786 million people all over the world do not have access to safe water. This means that one in every nine people does not have safe and clean drinking water.
40 per cent of these people are in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Martha believes her village urgently needs water, food, toilets and health services. “The water we collect from the ponds is very dirty and it is not always there,” she said. “We need a permanent water source.” At the time Martha met with the Red Cross team, water sources consisted of nearby swamps and a spring that is located approximately 2km from her village. At the end of the conversation with Martha, the Red Cross team headed to the swamp. There, they found some ladies and children collecting very dirty swamp water.
The water was clearly unsanitary and would most likely lead to poor health.
They also visited the spring where they met some ladies who had water cans on their heads, laundry on their laps and five-litre water containers in their hands. They all looked exhausted, the task of looking for water was taking up a lot of their time and energy, leaving little to no strength to focus on other productive activities.
But all this was before the Red Cross intervened.
Happier and healthier
In an attempt to address these challenges, through a partnership with the Spanish Red Cross, the Mozambique Red Cross was able to build three mechanical holes with hand pumps and a few toilet latrines, in 2017. The families in these areas were further sensitised on the dangers of dirty water and open defecation.
These facilities have greatly improved the lives of the villagers, they no longer struggle to get water and are now rid of water borne diseases. The villagers can now focus on more productive activities such as farming, education and trade which will improve their livelihood and quality of life.
The most joyful of all is Martha, the elderly lady who singlehandedly improved the life of her community with her bravery and eloquence. “Today, we are happier and healthier as we have clean water and toilets. We can now focus on other important needs in our lives,” she said.
The post Mozambique: water brings joy to a village appeared first on International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
Author: Red Cross
Water and sanitation is a basic human right for all. Yet, water scarcity affects more than 40 per cent of the global population (UN Report on Clean Water and Sanitation). Unfortunately, in countries like South Sudan, although completely preventable, water and sanitation-related diseases are among the top killers of children under five.
Six-year old, Mary, reaches for the water pump handle well above her head to fill her large jerry can with water. In one effortless motion, she hoists the jerry can onto her head balancing it on her head without her hands.
With the help of the South Sudan Red Cross, Mary and more than 500 community members in her village in Yambio now have access to clean, drinking water. Mary and her neighbours used to fetch dirty water down by a stream a half-hour away from her house and back; now, clean water is at her doorstep.
“The stream was making us sick,” says Victoria Richard, another villager living close by. “In rainy season, the water would get even more dirty and when it was dry, there would be no water at all.”
“Now that we have this borehole, we’re closer to clean water.”
The responsibility of fetching water is traditionally the role of women and children in rural South Sudan who often have to venture far distances by foot at least three times a day.
“Water is a major concern in these communities. We see that more than 90 per cent of the people fetching water are women and girls who must travel long distances,” says Michael Charles, Head of Country Office for the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent.
“Red Cross is here through the power of our volunteer network to help bring water closer to the communities to ensure that women and their families are healthier and safe.”
With the support of the Government of Japan, the South Sudan Red Cross is targeting 3.1 million people, including 560,000 children under five, to help prevent common illnesses in rural communities, including malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea. More than 5,000 people now have access to clean drinking water in through this project with millions more using safer health, sanitation and hygiene practices that keep their families safe and healthy.
Photos and content written by: Corrie Butler
Author: Red Cross
It is estimated that 15 per cent of the world’s population is disabled in some way and that the vast majority of people with disabilities live in developing countries. For communities, governments and humanitarian organisations, this can present specific challenges in providing accessible services, especially in the area of water, sanitation and hygiene. The scale and range of needs is daunting and largely underreported. Many organisations are now beginning to recognise the need for radical change to bring support to the most vulnerable.
People such as Paulina Samuel, 80, who lives in the Ohangwena region of Namibia, with her sister Olivia and two granddaughters. Olivia is unable to walk any distance and this was recognised by a regional council officer who then worked with the Namibia Red Cross to help build a toilet and handwashing facilities close to her home. Volunteers also provided education and support. While the new facilities were designed to improve Olivia’s life, it has had an impact on the whole family. The two younger children were able to visit a neighbour’s toilet during the day, but at night they would have to use the bush.
“I’m so excited because I now have access to a clean toilet, unlike before when I had to go into a bush,” Pauline said.
IFRC’s Disability Coordinator, Mina Mojtahedi, said stories such as Pauline’s demonstrated that there was at least now recognition that disabled people’s WASH needs were not being met, and that would lead to change.
“The lack of access to water and sanitation services is an important, but often ignored, issue,” she said. “We are committed to doing more in our planning, operations and programme delivery to ensure that we’re breaking down barriers to access and ensure the sanitation needs of all people are met. Our commitment extends to making sure all members of communities are represented in our planning.”
Mina’s recent missions to Ghana and Greece showed that collaboration with communities and engaging with people with disabilities at every stage of planning, was vital, but that this was not always the first priority. “Communities do recognise challenges, for example, for people with mobility limitations or older people accessing and using latrines, or issues of communication with deaf members. But they are going to need support to improve awareness of the barriers they face and how to remove them,” she said. “The people with disabilities are all too aware of the barriers, and are keen to work with organisations to address them.”
The Ghana Red Cross, Mina said, realised the importance of representation. “We talked about how the Red Cross could partner with local disabled people’s organisations to raise awareness about inclusion.” But, she said, they needed to look beyond the standard idea that disability equals mobility and address subjects including access to information for people who were deaf or blind.
“The solutions to accessible and inclusive WASH are fairly simple. It’s just a matter of designing actions to be inclusive from the beginning – this actually serves the whole community.”
Mina Mojtahedi, IFRC Disability Inclusion coordinator has been on recent missions to Ghana and Greece to meet with people with disabilities and disability organisations and understand how the Movement could improve WASH services.
What is clear, though, is that disability inclusion has been largely neglected by the humanitarian sector, and this has to change. “Not enough is being done to improve access to good sanitation services,” Mina said. “People with disabilities have a voice, and we need to support their desire for change and amplify their voices to raise the issues that affect their lives and make the whole humanitarian sector understand their rights and their needs.”
Solutions will involve investment, such as making sure programmes have a person attached with knowledge and experience of dealing with the issues all parts of the communities face, and making sure people with disabilities are heard in the planning and delivery of services.
“Having a focal point with technical expertise on inclusion to support accessible programming would make a huge difference.”
Author: Red Cross
Data Literacy activities build a common language and connect data leaders with data curious while co-creating spaces to learn and share skills. The Centre for Humanitarian Data’s Humanitarian Data Exchange (HDX) team and IFRC co-hosted a two-day Data Skills workshop on March 7 – 8, 2018 in Nairobi, Kenya. We convened 40 diverse humanitarians including information managers, monitoring & evaluation colleagues, disaster/operations managers, health coordinators, journalists, and community engagement delegates from across OCHA, UN agencies, IFRC, National Societies, international and local NGOs. The interactive workshop design included a mix of discussion/knowledge sharing sessions and hands-on technical exercises.
“I didn’t know a training could be that much fun.” Lotte Ruppert, Delegate, Community Engagement, IFRC Africa
Senior leaders from IFRC and OCHA joined the event to provide insights and support for improving data literacy. Humanitarians need management buyin to prioritize and upskill data skills. Gemma Connell, Head of Office, UNOCHA’s Regional Office for East and Southern Africa (Nairobi), reminded participants to “Know your data, Know your manager.” She provided guidance on meeting manager needs by providing timely, accurate, and clear data for advocacy that is informed by the context. She also stated: “Data saves lives or could risk lives.” Robert Kaufman, Deputy Director of IFRC Africa and Data Champion, encouraged participants to meet their users:
Data literacy focuses on the critical thinking and knowledge exchange needed to improve data skills. To that end, we held sessions focused on data visualization basics, localization data workflows, storytelling with data, negotiating with decision-makers, and a data protection simulation. Each of the discussions and sessions focused on the skills of participants. Asking a room full of data savvy colleagues to not use their computers is a worthy risk.
How useful are the information products we create? Do we meet managerial and organizational needs? How can data support the decision making process during humanitarian response? We challenged participants to build up talking points in 4 areas then “negotiate” with the guest managers. They needed devise strategies and rebuttals for the following key areas: confusion/knowledge gaps, challenges in systems/new technology/processes, trust/accuracy/bias/quality, and security/legal/privacy. It was an enlightening exercises in assumptions. As Jamie LeSueur, Operations Manager, South Sudan (IFRC) advised: “We need data that is actionable, reliable. By sharing data we can better assess scale of need & make better decisions. Go to the community to verify the data, do not use just projection of data.”
How might we better incorporate local data as part of information workflows? Isaac Ndoricimpa, Head of Planning, Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting, Burundi Red Cross Society, provided the groups with a disaster response scenario. They were tasked with creating a checklist to incorporate data into their workflow. One group focused on secondary data plus local data whereas the other group created a ‘role play’ of community informants to help guide the key questions, then devise the checklist.
Building on the critical thinking exercises, participants engaged in technology hands-on sessions. One of the core workshop goals was to share more about the Humanitarian Data Exchange (HDX (the platform)), the Center for Humanitarian Data and the HDX Nairobi Data Lab. The Center for Humanitarian Data’s mandate, based in the Hague, Netherlands, focuses on network engagement, data literacy, data services, and data policy. To support this effort globally, there are HDX Labs both in Nairobi and Dakar. (IFRC previously co-hosted a Data Skills workshop with HDX Lab in Dakar). The HDX Labs provide network connectivity for all humanitarians. For IFRC and National Societies in East Africa, the HDX Lab could provide sustainable support and alliances for advancing data skills to support our mission.
HDX is also a platform to share data among humanitarian actors. Sessions were held to explain the toolsets (e.g. quick charts) and practices to share data in a responsible and useful way. One of the ways to do this is via the HXL (Humanitarian Data Exchange Language). To be clear, it uses hashtags and keywords to help people ‘tag’ and identify types of data. The HXL proxy is a service of HDX, which allows users to easily pull in data (merging different sources, filter data, data cleaning) using the HXL tags. It helps the IFRC to quickly build dashboards on the IFRC GO platform. We also had introductions to Microsoft Power Bi and Tableau.
Most of the sessions during this workshop provided “introductions” to the topics, practices, and tools. With every Data Skills workshop, IFRC designs and tests new curriculum with the goal to share with National Societies and other humanitarian actors. Session designs will be included in the upcoming Data Playbook – a toolkit to support data literacy at IFRC. The HDX Lab will also be a local resource to provide colleagues with more technology training and skillshares. To that end, we captured feedback from participants for future planning both locally and globally for both IFRC and OCHA (Centre for Humanitarian Data).
One of the best parts of hosting a workshop is watching people connect and learn from each other. We designed various activities to drive future partnerships and alliances for the humanitarian network. James Magage, IFRC Africa Data Intern, created this fantastic Story Map with highlights from the Nairobi Data Skills Workshop.
Big thank you to all the participants for being inspiring. Thank you to our partners at HDX/Centre for Humanitarian Data, OCHA’s Regional Office for East and Southern Africa, Kenyan Red Cross Society, Burundi Red Cross Society, and IFRC Africa Regional Office. Special thanks to co-facilitators HDX Team: Javier Teran, Lillian Nduati, Godfrey Takavarasha, and Joseph Marindi and IFRC Team: Assanke Koedam, Henk Hoff, Guido Pizzini, and James Magige.
Special guests: Robert Kaufman (Deputy Director, IFRC Africa), Gemma Connell (Head of Office, UNOCHA), Jamie LeSueur (IFRC Operations Manager, South Sudan), Pierre Gelas (Deputy Head of Emergency Preparedness Response Unit at UNOCHA), Isaac Ndoricimpa (Head of PMER, Burundi Red Cross Society) and Catherine Gicheru (Code for Kenya Citizen Lab Lead).
Special thanks to Nailab for the venue and for Benson Mutahi Githaiga, Community Coordinator, I-Hub for all the amazing photos.
Photo credits: Guido on the HDX proxy by Heather Leson CC-By 4.0. Isaac and Local Data Workflows – by Lillian Nduati/Heather Leson CC-By 4.0. HXL Exercise by Benson Mutahi Githaiga, Community Coordinator, I-Hub.
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Author: Red Cross