12 August 2016

How community initiative improved village’s livelihood

We all know it is important to live in a healthy surrounding but very few people make conscious efforts to ensure the environment is up to the mark. But those are not sentiments that apply to Kajumiro A village in Rwimi, Bunyangabu, Kabarole District.

Residents in the village have turned it into a model area for sanitation in the Tooro sub-region. It is not an easy task to achieve 100 per cent coverage in sanitation, especially in a water-stressed rural area. But residents of Kajumiro A village have done it.

Using local voluntary groups, the residents have come up with a mechanism to reward homes with pit latrines and kitchens as well as encourage those without to construct them. The farmers’ revolution and Village Health Team (VHT) have been spearheading this drive.

“Before, hygiene was bad until a farmers’ revolution started, helping many people in the village, that is why many people now have toilets and kitchens,” Amos Kyomuhangi, a member of the farmers’ revolution, observes. He says the group together with the VHT carries out spot-checks in homes and gives out hoes and pangas to those who meet the mark.
Farmers’ revolution was started as a self-help project by farmers in Kajumiro A as a community initiative about four years ago. The goal was home improvement with sanitation and hygiene as one of their components.
When the district health department visited the village, they partnered with the group to promote home improvement.

Kajumiro A’ s plan

Olive Tumuhairwe, the health inspector Burahya Sub-county who also holds the docket of assistant district water officer in charge of water and sanitation says their focus is to have an initiative to improve hygiene and sanitation in the district.

“This is not a pilot project, our focus is on the whole district but Rwimi came out the best. We got the idea from the district planning meeting on health,” Tumuhairwe says, adding: “In Rwimi and Bukuku sub-counties the district spent Shs21m between 2013 and 2014.
She says when they rolled out, Kajumiro A had 64 per cent latrine coverage and handwashing was far below 30 per cent.

“We sensitised the community about the need for sanitation and hygiene and we saw that at the end of the implementation period of 12 months (July 2013 to June 2014), Kajumiro A village had improved latrine coverage from 64 to about 98 per cent and handwashing had also improved from below 30 up to 98 per cent.”

The health department empowered the local communities and local leaders to do follow-ups in the village.

Tumuhairwe explains that although there were village groups, they did not have enough knowledge to monitor, do home visits and the health assistant would give them technical guidance.

She credits Farmers’ Revolution for being vigilant. “We empowered the local leaders with a police post in the area to arrest family heads whose homes did not have latrines.

“The crime preventers do not allow idlers in trading centres before 12pm. All people must be at work in their plantations because a poor community cannot be hygienic,” Robert Mugabe, the Rwimi Sub-county chief says.
“The revolutionary groups move around the homesteads and every Monday they report to us the defaulters and it is these reports that we use for our action plan,” Mugabe says.

“I think we are going to take it as a learning area for other areas so that their best practices can be duplicated in the whole district,” Tumuhairwe says.

The parameters
According to Sarah Kobusingye, the health inspector Bunyangabu, there are several parameters the district health department considers before awarding marks. “We examine the home, whether there are regular repairs, if the house is clean, if it is a kitchen it must have a smoke escape, a raised fire place, how utensils inside a cupboard are arranged,” Kobusingye says.

“We look at the pit latrines, it must have enough height, 15 meters deep and it must be closed, roofed with a door and must have a hand washing facility outside,” she adds.


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