Water Journal : Water Journal March 2011
feature article water MARCH 2011 57 • Committees provided the organisational structure for the camp to work towards improving its own conditions and to represent itself to other agencies. During the 10-week deployment of the MSM, 187 simple pit latrines and 31 trench latrines were constructed, with basic hand-washing facilities at each set of latrines. The act of hand- washing and promoting hand-washing has been reported to have a great impact on reducing diarrhoea morbidity rates9. Other sanitation facilities constructed included bathing areas, solid waste collection points, and laundry slabs. Nevertheless, our focus was on provision of latrines with hand-washing facilities, because the coverage of these items was so low. Many people in rural Pakistan practice open defecation and do not have access to any sort of latrine; however, this could not continue in the cramped conditions of camps, where people did not have access to scrubland with privacy. Hygiene promotion was particularly challenging because a large number of people came from an open defecation background, and activities such as clean-up and hand-washing campaigns were ongoing throughout the deployment. A number of hygiene promotion workshops were also held in each camp where games, mainly with the women and children (while the men were often out trying to find work), explored attitudes towards hygiene. These consisted of sorting and discussing picture cards showing people carrying out 'good', 'OK' and 'poor' sanitation practices. Another game involved asking people to draw transmission routes of disease. I found assisting with the flood response especially interesting because I had previously been working on an irrigation project in Sindh Province for approximately one year, prior to and during the flooding, with Mott MacDonald, a global management, engineering and development consultancy. The project, jointly funded by the Government of Sindh and the World Bank, involved rehabilitating significant parts of the irrigation infrastructure. The recent flooding in Sindh was due to the Indus River overtopping and breaching its banks and flooding the flat plains, rather than direct rainfall. To try to reduce the water levels in the Indus, flows greater than the canals were designed for were diverted into the irrigation network. During this deployment I was particularly impressed with the speed at which IDPs would construct their own facilities when given the tools, materials and a small amount of financial resources. It was also useful being able to communicate with camp committee leaders via mobile phone to ask about progress on sanitation facilities and to arrange times to visit camps. It is hoped that these committees (who often come from a particular village or area) may eventually form the backbone of a network which PRCS can use during more normal times to build resilience in the community. Although at the time of leaving in early December I was slightly apprehensive, given that there still appeared to be significant sanitation needs in some parts of Sindh, it was clear that the PRCS had plans in place to continue to develop the sanitation and hygiene promotion interventions, and that the capacity building the ERU team had undertaken would not be wasted. A village once stood on this spot. It comprised homes, schools, shops and a health care facility. PHOTO: SUZIE SARKIS PHOTO: ELIZABETH HOOD/BRITISH RED CROSS Handwashing is a vital part of disease control.
Water Journal April 2011