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Water is life

May 10th, 2021

Borno state in Nigeria has been in big crisis for decades. The area is heavily affected by Boko Haram’s armed activity and civilians are the most affected by this long-lasting war.

The population is constantly threat by massive and widespread abuse including killings, rape and other sexual violence, abduction, child recruitment, and family separation. 

 Children are among the particularly vulnerable groups that suffer the most. Now, many people are living within camps of displaced persons. 

From 2020 Terre des Hommes is providing affected people with water, sanitation, and health services, including natal education, cholera/ malaria/ measles awareness, and protection services, including psychosocial support and case management to the most vulnerable children and caregivers.

 One of the most needed services is clear, safe water for drinking, hygiene and sanitation. Lack of water affects those most in need who are exposed to disease outbreaks such as cholera. The recent COVID-19 outbreak has made Terre des Hommes work more complex. 

Community leader Gumule who lives in a camp for Internally Displaced Persons uses his own daily experiences to describe the situation “It used to take 30-45 minutes to walk to the nearest water point. The waiting time was approximately 6-8hrs in long queues before getting water before Terre des Hommes started this project.”

Approximately 30% of households reported buying water for household use in an area where only a few organisations are operating and providing Water, Hygiene and Sanitation services.

Gumule summarises other challenges for the population: “Due to the limited number of latrines, people practiced open defecation in the camp. Currently we have many households with latrines.”

Terre des Hommes provided sanitation facilities and cleaning materials to each camp zone. These included detergents and sanitation kits. The latrines were close to the dwelling places hence safe for children and women to use at night. “All these facilities changed our lives and we are now living in a clean environment. People have learnt and adopted to clean their compounds and burn the waste.” says Gumule. 

Terre des Hommes has procured and distributed 18000 soap bars to 5000 people. Out of the 1000 households targeted, 220 households were referred from Child Protection and health sectors of Terre des Hommes. 

Terre des Hommes has rehabilitated 30 units of latrines and two solar boreholes with 18000 liters capacity tanks in the area benefiting 900 people. 

Terre des Hommes has identified, selected, trained, and equipped 24 community-based hygiene promotion volunteers to conduct daily basis door-to-door hygiene promotion reaching more than 40000 people.
As a result of this project, an increase in the environmental cleanliness of the area has been observed resulting in a reduction of hygiene-related diseases such as acute water diarrhea or cholera.

Gumule explains “Terre des Hommes provided us with clean water for drinking by rehabilitating and upgrading a water system.  Their staff has been doing water chlorination at the source on a daily basis and this ensured the community consumed treated water. Since Terre des Hommes started water point chlorination in Mafa, there are no cases of cholera in our camp compared to the previous years where the prevalence was high”.

“Currently, it only takes about 10-15 minutes to and from the water point. This is a great change as people especially women were wasting all their time on fetching water. Now this can be used for other useful community work” Gumule declares.

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