Tag Archives: refugee camps

Will a “cottage industry” approach make emergency WASH more sustainable?

Al Madad hygiene and sanitation project in Aqbiyeh

Al Madad hygiene and sanitation project in Aqbiyeh, Bekaa Valley in Lebanon. Photo: Al Madad Foundation & AUB Association

An NGO is employing a self-help “cottage industry model” to introduce water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH)  services in refugee camps. Instead of relying on handouts, refugees are offered a steady wage to participate in the improvement of their own living conditions.

The NGO promoting this approach, is the Al Madad Foundation, a UK registered charity since 2001, based in London. The Foundation is active in two main areas:

  • education and literacy programmes for refugee and disadvantaged children
  • sustainable relief in emergencies

The Foundation’s Director is Aya Haidar, a Lebanese multimedia artist/activist with an MSc in NGOs and Development.

In Lebanon, the Al Madad Foundation is partnering with the AUB Association’s Community Project Development Unit to improve water, sanitation and hygiene within the country’s Syrian refugee communities. Under the supervision of qualified architects and civil engineers from the AUB Association, refugees will be employed to help dig holes, build toilets, pipe laying, and installing septic tanks and drainage systems.

The Foundation thinks this “cottage industry model” could eventually be extended to other fields such as education, by employing refugee women, many of whom are qualified teachers.

The Foundation chose to focus on WASH services in the camps, not only to “minimise avoidable morbidity and mortality” but also to “minimise the resulting impact upon the local Lebanese environment, including fresh water, ecosystems and the impact upon agriculture”. Hygiene promotion and awareness raising will go hand-in-hand with the provisions of water and sanitation infrastructure.

The UK government is considering implementing cash-for-work (CFW) programmes for both Syrian refugees and vulnerable Lebanese as part of their new £50 million (US$ 77 million) humanitarian aid initiative [1].

Oxfam implements a CFW initiative, that includes latrine construction, in Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp, the world’s largest refugee complex housing more than 400,000 people. Men and women are paid between 250 and 500 Kenyan Shillings (about US$ 3 – 6) $ per day depending on their skill levels [2].

The most well-known CFW aid programme was implemented by Mercy Corps in post-tsunami Aceh, Indonesia.  At its peak the seven-month programme employed nearly 18,000 participants and disbursed over US$ 4.5 million in direct payments [3]. Based of their experience in Indonesia and other countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Sri Lanka and Sudan, Mercy Corps published a CfW manual in 2007 [4].

[1] DFID, £50m UK support to Lebanon as refugee numbers soar, Gov.UK, 18 Jul 2013

[2]  Cash-for-work in Kenya: Building latrines at Dadaab camp, Oxfam, 15 Aug 2011

[3] Doocy, S. et al., 2005. The Mercy Corps Cash for Work Program in post-tsunami Aceh. Available at: http://preventionweb.net/go/2171

[4]  Mercy Corps, 2007. Guide to cash-for-work programming. [online] Portland, OR, USA: Mercy Corps. Available at: <http://www.mercycorps.org/files/file1179375619.pdf>

Source: Al Madad Foundation – Lebanon Emergency Aid Report 2013

Humanitarian crises and sustainable sanitation: lessons from Eastern Chad

Latrine at Farchana refugee camp

Latrine at Farchana refugee camp, Eastern Chad. Photo: Flickr/Sustainable sanitation

How important is sanitation during a humanitarian crisis? Why is it important to explore ecological and sustainable sanitation? Groupe URD looks at the case of Eastern Chad, an example of a major long-term crisis. From an acute emergency in 2003, the crisis has gone through a number of phases. The appropriateness of aid mechanisms is currently being questioned, with a particular focus on sanitation. Sustainable sanitation can help to improve the quality of life of refugees and IDPs as well as local populations. From this perspective, what lessons from Eastern Chad could be useful in other contexts?

Groupe URD concludes that the long-term success of alternatives to conventional sanitation in Chad, as elsewhere, does not depend on the application of particular technologies: it depends principally on the participation of the future users (from the design to the follow up) both in the building of the facilities and the re-use of products. Rather than reproducing a design, it is important to understand the principles of ecological sanitation in order to be able to adapt them to a particular context. The key ideas to be retained from the Chadian experience – which can be applied in many other contexts – are participation, awareness-raising, pilot projects, training and lesson sharing.

Read the full article by Julie Patinet of Groupe URD and Anne Delmaire of Toilettes du Monde

Source: Humanitarian Aid on the Move newsletter, no. 9, March 2012

Tunisia-Libya border: UNICEF sets up sanitation facilities at transit camps

UNICEF is covering the sanitation needs for more than 7,000 people who have fled the violence in Libya and find shelter in transit camps in southern Tunisia. The refugees first get registered in Ataawan transit camp, where they spend the night before moving on to Shousha camp.

Hygiene kits are being distributed in the camp and messages are also being prepared to raise awareness of good sanitation and hygiene practices, such as hand-washing.

UNICEF WASH Specialist Ahmedou Ould Sidi Ould Bahah is working at the border, assessing sanitation facilities including latrines, showers and water tanks in the Ataawan and Shousha transit camps.

He meets daily with national partners and volunteers, and liaises with the local municipality of Ben Guardane to ensure septic tanks are cleared in a timely manner.

A total of 632 latrines have been set up by UNICEF and partners at the camp, and more are being constructed.

Trucks are currently providing safe drinking water to Shousha but the drilling of a borehole at the camp is being considered to address water supply issues during the upcoming hot season.

Source: Roshan Khadivi, UNICEF, 30 Mar 2011

Haiti: Red Cross joins international organizations in hygiene drive as rains intensify

The Haitian Red Cross Society (HRCS) joined international NGOs working in water and sanitation in Haiti [on 25 May 2010] to stage a special street event opposite Port-au-Prince’s Place Saint-Pierre camp, where an estimated 6,000 people settled after the 12 January disaster.

HRCS volunteers led a crocodile of some 300 children from the camp around the Place Saint-Pierre square in Pétionville to where an interagency health promotion fair was held in tented stands.

The event was organized by the Hygiene Promotion sub-cluster and included groups like Oxfam and Save the Children.

According to Pauline Mwaniki, coordinator of the sub-cluster, “the fact that there has been no major outbreak of disease is partly due to humanitarian agencies’ efforts to spread hygiene messages.”

“With the rainy season intensifying,” Mwaniki added, “the risks are increasing though due to overcrowding in the camps so we are planning to launch a nationwide health awareness campaign.”

Storm drain

Diarrhoea is one of the leading causes of death of children under five in Haiti. Even before the earthquake, children could expect to fall ill between four and six times a year.

“There is diarrhoea in the camps but our hygiene promotion messages are helping in the fight against the disease, ” said HRCS health coordinator Sherley Bernard, who helped lead the children in songs and dances intended to convey key health messages in a fun way.

“Now that the rainy season has really started, we have to intensify our efforts to ensure camp communities practise good personal hygiene and that they know how to store water safely and dispose of waste.”

The Place Saint-Pierre camp was one of the first in the immediate aftermath of the quake to receive worldwide publicity about its insanitary, overcrowded conditions.

A week after the quake, French television reported from the camp that the focus on providing immediate medical care to victims meant hygiene had to “take a backseat”.

Things are better there now but still far from perfect. People have safe water, but as Friday’s event got underway women stripped to the waist bathed standing up in the newly dug storm drain surrounding the camp.

Hardware

Workers from Save the Children engage children from Place Saint-Pierre camp in Pétionville, Port-au-Prince, in games about key hygiene practices including hand-washing with soap. Photo: José Manuel Jiménez

Led by Red Cross volunteers and staff from the organizations taking part, children from Place Saint-Pierre camp took to the streets to sing about how washing hands with soap and water can save lives.

Amongst them was Milien Robenson, 13, whose family has been living in the camp since their house collapsed.

“It is really good to be able to sing and play games,” he said, “as it takes my mind off the earthquake and I no longer feel so afraid.”

Mothers came from the Place Saint-Pierre camp to hear how washing hands with soap after going to the toilet or before handling food and babies can prevent diarrhoea.

At the Pétionville event, mothers were given a bar of soap to encourage healthy behaviour, but organizers said the biggest challenge is matching messages with actual hardware like drains, toilets and washing facilities.

“We have an integrated approach,” said Gaelle Fohr, an International Federation health promotion delegate, who also spent the day at Place Saint-Pierre.

“In each of the camps where we organize health promotion activities, we also provide water, sanitation and health services.”

So far more than 150,000 people have been reached with hygiene promotion work in more than 100 camps where HRCS volunteers work with the International Federation and National Societies.

Flag day

Twenty-three-year old volunteer Jeanne Jaboin is a trained nurse and works for the French Red Cross in several camps.

Like many of the volunteers she also lost her house in the earthquake and is living with her husband and three children in a makeshift camp by the sea.

“In my camp there are no latrines and the water gets easily contaminated,” says Jaboin, “but at least I can use what I’ve learnt as a Red Cross volunteer to help my community stay healthy and avoid disease.”

Even though some of the HRCS volunteers lost homes, family and livelihoods, they remain committed to helping others less fortunate than themselves.

Saturday’s event had been originally planned for Haitian flag day on 18 May – the anniversary of the adoption of the country’s flag, made from the red and blue of the French tricolour, but it had to be postponed.

“Even at this difficult time we are proud to be Haitians,” said Bernard, “and as Red Cross volunteers we want to do everything we can to contribute to our country’s recovery.”

Source: Claire Doole, IFRC, 25 May 2010

Afghanistan: sanitation woes in makeshift IDP camps

Open defecation, lack of toilets and poor sanitation in makeshift internally displaced persons (IDP) camps throughout Afghanistan are a health threat, particularly to children, health workers and aid agencies say. [A]t least 230,000 people are living in formal IDP camps and informal settlements where few sanitary, water and toilet facilities are available.

About 500 families (2,500 individuals) displaced from southern regions have set up shacks, tents and mud huts in Qambar on the western outskirts of Kabul. Most residents there are forced to defecate in the open. Some also use insecure pit latrines or dry vault toilets near their shacks. “In summer we suffer a lot from the stink, and the flies and mosquitoes which are attracted to the scattered faeces and dirt,” Akhtar Gul, an IDP at Qambar camp, told IRIN.

[…] Anne Garella, head of the Action contre la Faim (ACF) country mission, told [news agency] IRIN they had applied to build toilets and water points for the Qambar IDPs but had failed to get permission from the government. In January [2009] the government permitted ACF to provide drinking water to the Qambar IDPs for six months; ACF has been delivering two tankers of water a day.

“The number of IDPs in the camp is increasing every day and we are very concerned about their access to drinking water after June,” said Garella, adding: “A longer-term solution would be for the government to allow us to dig wells and build toilets there.”

The need for safe drinking water will increase in the coming months and the government is expected to extend Qambar’s water delivery deadline to beyond June [2009], according to aid workers.

Source: IRIN, 23 Apr 2009

Uganda: Hepatitis E spreads, IDPs most vulnerable

Hepatitis E is on the increase in Uganda’s northern district of Pader, where it has claimed scores of lives and infected thousands in the past year, officials said. Since May, there have been 55 new infections and seven deaths in Pader, according to Angelo Luganya, a health official in Pader.

[…]

Since 2007, the viral disease has infected up to 8,000 people in neighbouring Kitgum district alone, and killed 129. The disease has since spread to the districts of Pader, Gulu, Adjumani and Amuru.

Hepatitis E is transmitted mainly by drinking contaminated water or eating contaminated food.

[T]he majority of those infected in the district were internally displaced persons (IDPs).

[…]

Poor sanitation has contributed to the spread of the disease, with some IDPs lacking pit latrines and others drinking unsafe water from unprotected sources, leaving them prone to infection.

Read more: IRIN, 13 Oct 2008

Pakistan: IDPs face cholera, difficult camp conditions – ICRC warns

PESHAWAR, 7 September 2008 (IRIN) – After prayer time at mosques in Peshawar, the provincial capital of Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province (NWFP), donations are collected for charity during Ramadan. […] Among those for whom funds are being allocated this year are internally displaced persons (IDPs) from conflict-affected Bajaur Agency, on Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan. While a ceasefire between the army and the militant groups they have fought over the past month has been called over the Ramadan period, some 300,000 people remain displaced, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

[…]

Conditions in many camps remain grim. The ICRC reported that cholera had broken out among the IDPs and as such its top priority was providing clean water and sanitation.

[…]

Outbreaks of cholera, an acute gastro-intestinal infection spread through contaminated food and water, have been reported in the past in northern areas and elsewhere.

“I don’t know what illness they are suffering, but the situation is very bad,” said Muhammad Jamshed, 45, a mechanic who had been based until a week ago at a camp in Lower Dir but has now moved to Peshawar to look for a job and place to stay. “Many people, especially children, are falling sick with severe stomach problems. The food being served is substandard. These people need help. The hygiene conditions are appalling because there are no toilets.”

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