Sub-Saharan Africa has the lowest sanitation coverage on Earth, and roughly 70% of the population, approximately 600 million people, has no access to an improved sanitation source. In many rural areas, open defecation is still common and water-related illnesses cause incalculable suffering, often undermining many development efforts. Preventable water-related diseases claim the lives of thousands daily, but Africare knows that African nations can close the sanitation gap. Africare is collaborating with its partners and with African communities to increase basic hygiene awareness, employ behavior change campaigns, rehabilitate water points and safeguard natural water reserves so that African people can thrive and lead healthier lives both now and in the future.
Cleaning the Hands of the Community:
The WASH Project
In the Luapula province of Zambia only 10% of the population has access to clean water, in spite of abundant bodies of water in the area. With WASH, Africare focused on using innovative strategies to increase the sanitation coverage in communities and at schools that were unable to treat drinking water.
Before the WASH Project was implemented, few understood the importance of sanitation—latrines were not widely used for defecation and a significant portion of the community admitted to never washing their hands after using the latrines. Among those who did, only about half used soap or ash.
When WASH concluded in May 2010, 48 schools had received life skills training and sanitation supplies. 155 villages were reached by 1,240 community volunteers and trained in integrated water and sanitation activities. In total 65,968 children and adults were taught to safeguard their water and sanitation health.
At project close, 62 villages had been declared open defecation free with 100% of households possessing latrine coverage. Communities impacted by the WASH Project had embraced the project’s goals and took their health into their own hands by establishing new goals to improve sanitation at facilities without any external assistance.