Problem Addressed

Communities in rural Ethiopia currently face a number of WASH-related problems, e.g. the use of unprotected water sources for human and livestock consumption, resulting in water-borne and related diseases. Excessive time and energy is spent fetching water for drinking and other domestic purposes, despite the likelihood the water is dirty and not potable. According to the information obtained from the local administration during their baseline survey, of the total households in Give Water’s program area in Aselecha, almost all were not using water from a protected source and community knowledge about improved hygiene and sanitation practices was very limited, especially the awareness about children’s hygiene practices.

One of the leading causes of diarrhea is human contact with pathogen-rich feces. Of particular concern are children ages 2-6 who generally defecate openly as they are not “potty-trained”. Care providers, usually mothers and older siblings, are often responsible for cleaning toddlers’ bottoms and cleaning up the feces of children who openly defecate. This is a health risk, especially in areas where handwashing is poorly practiced and where sanitation services are under-developed. Therefore, there is a strong need for safe water supply facilities, as well as improved hygiene and sanitation practices, especially for children.

Innovative Approach

Give Water’s promotion of child health through improved WASH services addresses children’s needs on multiple levels. In addition to the development of a child-sized latrine, Give Water does this by teaching children at school about proper sanitation and hygiene practices, and reinforcing these messages at the home. This integrated approach to improve sanitation and hygiene helps ensure that proper WASH practices start from a young age, and children can grow up in healthier environments.

Program Solution

Give Water’s program involves a number of WASH initiatives which improve both WASH infrastructure and communication education of better sanitation and hygiene practices. They have installed a 11.5km long pipe and fittings to bring water to communities previously out of reach. They have also constructed numerous water points and public toilets, as well as household toilets, and introduced an innovative child-sized toilet slab so children can easily use a latrine instead of defecating outside.

To support this infrastructure, Give Water trained community technicians to maintain the water points and provided plumbing tools for them to do so. They also established a community-led total sanitation and hygiene (CLTSH) steering forum made up of health extension workers and community leaders to maintain water sites and educate the community on better sanitation practices. The school-based program focuses on handwashing and safe excreta disposal, and includes a planning program at each participating school so that students can design a beautification project and a hygiene promotion initiative for their school and broader community.

Give Water’s household promotional program works to ensure students’ messages are reinforced at the household level, using World Health Organization (WHO) health extension workers and sanitation promoters. They emphasize reducing diarrhea through improved handwashing, increased usage of children’s latrines, the termination of toddler open defecation, and improved adult latrines.