Limited access to water for washing, and lack of clean facilities to wash in
Poor Sanitation and Health Problems
Currently, millions of people live without access to safe water and 2.5 billion live without adequate sanitation. War and long droughts due to climate change only exacerbated the situation in the South Kordofan and Darfur regions.
Access to clean water is a fundamental of life. But beyond what we drink access to water for washing and clean facilities to wash in are limited. This has a particularly negative impact on women and girls experiencing their period.
Most village populations that we serve live a semi-subsistence lifestyle in rural areas where access to improved sanitation like hygiene and private toilet facilities are not available.
This rough life does not just affect sanitation facilities – it can mean the difference between access to quality sanitary products and be forced to use uncomfortable, often makeshift substitutions. Inferior products used in substitute of sanitary towels result in rashes, discomfort, and leakage causing pain and further perpetuate the cycle of shame.
Over half of the refugees and internally displaced victims treated on daily are sick with waterborne diseases, yet most of the healthcare facilities are broken down and lack clean water.
The limited water in these hospitals is only used to give patients to drink or swallow medicine. There are many patients with transmittable illness and yet there's no water to disinfect rooms which can only be done once in months.
A structure in a medical compound in the Nuba mountains damaged by a bomb dropped on their location.
For many women and adolescent girls where we work, having your period already means being excluded from many aspects of daily life. It can mean bullying, shame, and abuse. It can mean using whatever materials you have at your disposal to create makeshift pads because sanitary towels are not affordable or available. It can mean burning your sanitary items for fear of putting them in the bin, where they could be seen. Poor access to sanitation facilities further compounds this stigma.
In the war zones and very underdeveloped villages, it varies greatly when it comes to sanitation facilities, women’s and adolescent girls’ rights and access to education around sexual health and reproductive rights. But across the board, women are still facing huge barriers to living with safety, freedom, and dignity during different life stages.
We all know periods are a normal function – but bullying around girls’ periods is prevalent across these regions. Periods are still taboo even amongst siblings – girls must take care to not let their brothers know they are menstruating. According to some cultures, it’s something that should remain a secret.
“When we have our period boys must not see it. If they see you have period and stain on the clothes they will punish you for being disrespectful.”
Women are often forced to live apart or stay indoors, not handle food and stay away from gardens and religious places because they are considered tainted and unclean. As hugely important social activities, this leaves women isolated from their communities, and can reduce their income if forced to stay away from their normal income generating activities.
Menstrual Hygiene Management
The strength of our efforts gathered that this taboo is rooted in experiences of women and girls and capturing their voices and experience has been resourceful. By engaging with women, and girls in these areas our work give a clear and complex picture of women’s experiences with menstruation.
Despite the vast differences between each region, our work highlights the need for action in all these areas.
Our main focus is:
Strengthening education around menstruation and puberty and challenging discriminatory taboos.
Improving availability, affordability, and access to sanitary items, particularly in schools and workplaces.
Improving the sanitation and hygiene of washing facilities and give women a safe way to change and dispose of soiled products.
Water and poverty are inextricably linked. Lack of safe water and poverty are mutually reinforcing, therefore, access to consistent sources of clean water is crucial to poverty reduction.
We work with communities to improve access and knowledge around sanitation with a particular focus on how it affects women.
More than 2.6 billion people around the world don't have access to safe sanitation. Instead of using toilets connected to sewer lines, most leave their waste on the ground or in a ditch or pit. The result is unsightly, unsanitary and contributes to illness.
Some 1.5 million children die each year from diarrhea-related diseases, often connected to poor sanitation. Many development experts believe most of these deaths could be prevented with proper sanitation, safe drinking water, and improved hygiene.
According to a United Nations report, half the world's people don't have access to a toilet or a clean latrine People often relieve themselves in the bushes or in a field. Only 30 percent of the world uses toilet paper. Alternatives include hands, water, sand, small rocks, mud, leaves, rope, and seaweed.
A typical bathroom in the South Kordofan and the refugee camps is a shed-like outhouse in back of the house with cinder blocks walls and a metal door and roof. The toilet is usually a latrine or a hole in the ground surrounded by concrete. People sit on makeshift boxes with a hole or they squat instead of sit. If there is a flushing system it is more often than not a ladle and a bucket of water.
Toilets can be very wasteful. The water from one flush of a toilet is equal to what an average person uses each day in the 30 world's poorest countries.
Against All Odds
Studies have shown that providing clean water offers tremendous benefits. Health costs go down. People live longer, stay healthier and are more productive. But often there is a little political will to invest in sanitation.
According to the United Nations, poor sanitation kills 1.5 million children a year. Most die of diarrhea from drinking contaminated water. Diarrhea is the world's No.2 leading killer of children. Poor sanitation is also blamed for the spread of intestinal worms, pneumonia, and cholera.
We have made the goal of this project to introduce sanitary methods to many regions especially those affected by extreme poverty and wars.
We work with engineers on effective ways to dispose of waster and maximize the available resources.
Encouraging hygiene is a challenge in war zones.
We train the community on how to many limited resources, and some have embraced new practices but we still have a long way to go. There is still a struggle because whilst we teach on the importance of soap, they don't have the financial means to access soaps and disinfectants.
Water and poverty are inextricably linked. Lack of safe water and poverty are mutually reinforcing; access to consistent sources of clean water is, therefore, crucial to poverty reduction.
Your support provides opportunities for vulnerable women and young people in war zones and other vulnerable victims of injustice to access clean water as well as hygiene and sanitation programs.
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