Hygiene promotion improves the health of communities in Afghanistan

Publié: 17 juin 2015 9:08 CET

Sailab Ayubi, IFRC

38-year old farmer, Qader Khan lives in Ahengran Village, a respective sub-village of Hazarnaw in Afghanistan. With a population of around 60 families or 406 individuals, the main source of income for the villagers is farming. Khan used to be an Afghan refugee and lived in a camp for several years in Pakistan before returning to his homeland in 2011. He is now married and has two children.

“During the early stages of our return, my younger children were getting diarrhoea very often,” Khan said. “Even getting them to the nearest health clinic was difficult due to the extremely hot weather, particularly during the summer.”  

According to Khan, most of his income during summer was spent on medication for his young children. The medicine did not have a lasting effect on the health of his children, and they were often ill.  

“Two years ago, I came to know through a community meeting that the Afghan Red Crescent Society was planning to organize a community-based health and first aid training, so I encouraged my son to attend the workshop. Along with my son and other volunteers, I attended a few health and hygiene promotion sessions, which helped me understand where we went wrong in our daily hygiene practices,” Khan said. His whole family stopped drinking water from the stream and started using the well constructed by the Red Crescent instead. Khan also convinced his family to wash their hands properly after using the latrine and before eating to help reduce the risk of diarrhoeal diseases.

“My family’s health situation has improved significantly these past couple of years. My children are getting less sick, and there are only occasional episodes of diarrhoea,” Khan added.

The Red Crescent initiated a comprehensive community-based health intervention project in the village in 2012, targeting 25% of the families for the construction of sanitary latrines and a well for every 24 families. So far, the Red Crescent has constructed 15 sanitary latrines and 2 wells in the village. In addition, 20 volunteers, including Khan’s son, have been trained in community-based health and first aid, health and hygiene, and reproductive health. These volunteers are working with targeted communities through household visits, campaigns, community orientation sessions and face-to-face talks. The hygiene promotion and water and sanitation project has played a vital role in improving healthy behaviour among the communities.