29 July 2015
Sindhupalchok was swiftly identified by the Nepalese authorities as one of the districts worst affected by the earthquake of April 25th. Over 1800 people died. According to some estimates, 80% of houses in the district were destroyed. Water and sanitation structures collapsed or were severely damaged, making water-related diseases a very real threat. With this in mind, RedR provided organisations working in the district with training in safe latrine construction and hygiene promotion. A few weeks later, we caught up with trainees to see how they are using their new skills to help their communities build back better.
"Participants in the hygiene promotion and community mobilisation training agreed that prior to the workshop, their knowledge base was very theoretical," explains Pallavi, RedR India’s Communications Officer. "They felt that they needed practical demonstrations, and they wanted to learn as much as possible about how to effectively share good practices with community members - particularly women and children."
Nita Joshi is a Supervisor with the Nepalese Red Cross."Before, we were merely going to villages and pasting posters to generate awareness," she recalls. "We now know that it is important to explain in person, at the community level, the links between hygiene and health."
Female Community Health Volunteers face a range of challenges, particularly when trying to impart messages about menstrual health.
Rejina Sapkota is a Social Mobiliser with JANAHIT Nepal. "After my training with RedR, I happened to interact with a group of 10 to 15 women from the Tamang Community of Sano Sirubari VDC (Village Development Committee)," she told us. "Tamang are indigenous inhabitants of the Himalayan regions of Nepal. They are pretty traditional in their lifestyle. It was a major challenge to persuade them to rethink their traditional practices: using mud for cleaning, for example, and not using soap or sanitary pads. They were wary of what they perceived as ‘modern techniques’ which their ancestors wouldn’t have employed. On top of this, they were happy with their way of doing things and didn't feel they needed to learn new ideas.
During the RedR training, I learned how to explain to them the importance of good hygiene practices as a way of preventing the spread of disease. I explained that unhygienic practices were the reason for their extra medical expenses caused by frequent visits (3 - 4 times a month) to the hospital. I demonstrated how to wash hands with soap, and explained that feeding their kids with dirty hands was one of the causes of diarrhoea. I was very happy when I saw them starting to adopt these good practices."
Please note that the above texts have been translated from Nepali. Our thanks to RedR India.