Poor sanitation and hygiene is a cross-cutting health concern in all rural Ugandan villages. Poor sanitation leads to diarrheal diseases, which are responsible for 17% of all deaths of children under five (WHO). Poor personal and household hygiene can lead to trachoma, increased rate of infections, and a number of other diseases. A home with standing water can become a breeding ground for mosquitoes and increase malaria rates not just for that family, but for the neighbors as well.
We educate our village communities about the importance of household hygiene, personal hygiene, and sanitation through outreaches. We also have partnerships with local schools, encouraging children to adopt personal habits of hygiene, and to help their schools and their families adopt small sanitation measures like having ‘tippy-taps’ outside of latrines.
Our 70 Healthy Villages were chosen partially on the basis of having very poor latrine coverage, a condition that increases the prevalence of cholera, dysentery, worms, and many other diarrheal diseases. We conduct ‘Sanitation Pushes’, innovative and inclusive campaigns to increase latrine coverage and sanitation measures in our villages. This campaign involves four steps:
- Uganda Village Project conducts pre-campaign and post-campaign household surveys to determine the increase in coverage for each sanitation improvement, and follows up with households to help finish the longer projects such as latrine construction.
- We work with our community Village Health Teams to create ‘model households’. The Village Health Teams demonstrate all the sanitation improvements at their own homes, including tippy taps (what is a tippy tap?), latrines, plate stands, drainage systems for cooking areas, and rubbish pits.
- We gather teams of high school and university students, local government officials, Uganda Village Project staff, and the community Village Health Teams for the Sanitation Campaign. Each team works in one neighborhood of the village, going house-to-house during the sanitation campaign and making improvements to the homes it visits.
- Over the week-long Sanitation Push, the community becomes excited and motivated to make sanitation improvements to their homes, and learns how to build the sanitation improvements from the teams made up of their neighbors and friends. The cumulative effect is the spread of sanitation improvements throughout the community and a major increase in sanitation coverage over the course of just a few days of hard work. Our teams often build over 100 tippy taps in one village campaign!
A household shows its appreciation after a Uganda Village Project Sanitation Campaign