|© UNICEF Cambodia/2014/Martina Tomassini|
In Damrei Chhlang village, health focal point Theara (23) is learning how to help others
in her community prepare for and respond to floods.
Raising awareness about sanitation and hygiene is part of larger efforts led by the Cambodian government, with UNICEF support and funding from the European Commission - Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO), to reduce the risk of water-borne diseases during and after a flood emergency. Community members also receive training in well chlorination and well rehabilitation.
The so called ‘poo calculation tool’ enables trainees to reconsider their open defecation practice by visualising and measuring how much poo they and their entire village produce every year. This a powerful training tool used to raise awareness and inspire change from within the community.
The idea underlying the training is simple: gather representatives from 8 villages, train them on life-saving sanitation and hygiene practices and watch the knowledge expand when they return home and share their experience with their families and neighbours.
The poo calculation tool gets the trainees to estimate how much poo they produce individually each day. This figure is then multiplied by the number of people living in their village and by the number of days in a year. Trainees are then asked to identify where they usually poo by placing a small stone on a map of the village. It is with a mix of amusement, embarrassment and surprise that trainees suddenly realise that the village is covered by hundreds of thousands of kilos of faeces every year: that poo is everywhere and, most importantly, that open defecation affects their health.
“Thanks to this training I will be able to pass on important information to my people; I will be able to tell them what to do before, after and during the flood,” says Theara. “I wish we could extend this training to as many villages as possible so that a larger number of people can benefit from the knowledge I have been given,” she adds.
Clapping and laughter intersperse a very interactive three-day training, which covers topics such as the importance of washing hands and using a toilet to prevent water-borne and open-defecation-related diseases; the impact of floods in Cambodia; as well as what actions to take before, during and after floods. During the practical hand-washing session, some women show what they have just learned with pride: they smell their fingertips, pull a delighted face and laugh with the rest of the group.
© UNICEF Cambodia/2014/Martina Tomassini|
A village health focal point participates in the hand-washing exercise.
Learn more about what the EU-UNICEF partnership does at: http://www.unicef.org/eu/