Poor sanitation is one of the biggest killers of children in South Sudan
According to the WHO Health Profile study for South Sudan (2011), over 40% of child deaths were caused by pneumonia and diarrhoea – diseases that can be easily tackled by improving sanitation and health practices (e.g. hand washing with soap). However, changing sanitation practices in South Sudan is not merely a case of introducing new techniques. It involves changing attitudes, understanding and beliefs about how practices such as using latrines make a huge difference to health.
The Trumpeter Community Health Project
The Trumpeter Community Health Project (TCHP) takes it’s name from Ezekiel 33:3-5, where trumpets are blown to warn people of judgement. It says ”if he had taken warning, he would have saved his life.” The sanitation volunteers see themselves as trumpeters warning communities of the deadly dangers of poor sanitation and praying that they take heed and transform their behaviour. Some of the aims of the Trumpeter Community Health Project are:
- To reduce ‘open defecation’ (i.e. going to the toilet in the open rather than using a loo) which rapidly spreads disease into water sources and from person to person.
- To decrease the spread of cholera, a disease which badly affects Juba every rainy season and is spread through unclean water.
- To help families access clean water.
The project is overseen by Remijo Lano, a South Sudanese health worker who has worked in Darfur, and the bulk of front line work is carried out by 30 locals who have been selected through churches and our Manna Microfinance groups. Each worker receives a small salary and must attend a 3-day sanitation training course before going to work in communities.
To establish the sort of teaching necessary in different communities, volunteers carrying out research, through house-to-house visits, asking questions such as ”how many children under 5, in your household, have diarrhoea?” and ”does your household have a latrine?”
Then volunteers revisit communities, teaching them of the benefits of practices such as using latrines and hand-washing with soap after using the latrine, as well as remedial techniques such as creating homemade oral re-hydration solutions for infants who fall sick with diarrhoea.
The project began in June 2014 and has already seen great success; households interviewed about the difference the project has made said that: ”diseases for under-5s have reduced”, we are ”washing hands after every latrine visit” and ”open defecation has reduced.”
Community leaders in the areas targeted have asked for the project to be expanded, and the Trumpeters have indeed expanded their work. They have begun –
- Carrying out campaigns in market places, alongside their household visits, to communicate health messages on a larger scale.
- Working with schools and school children to teach improved sanitation from a young age.
- Training women to be advocates of clean water in their communities.
- Investigating the challenges communities face in accessing clean water so the can develop solutions.
Help Us Improve Health and Save Lives in South Sudan
Please pray for this project and all the sanitation workers. If you are able to give financially please visit this page to extend the impact of this work.