With the support of donors including Jackie Maxted, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Habitat for Humanity supporters, we recently completed our water, sanitation and hygiene program in Mon State, Myanmar.
The overall objective of the water, sanitation and hygiene program was to increase access to safe water and sanitation facilities, and improve knowledge and practices on hygiene in 14 communities in Mon State.
The project was a great success benefiting 6,331 individuals. Below are some of the key achievements:
- The project aimed to improve hygiene and sanitation through improving the capacity of community groups and through educating community volunteers who share health education messages. This has empowered community members and enhanced capacity.
- The project has resulted in a decline in the occurrence of diarrhea-related diseases in the community through access to safe drinking water, easy access of water, improved sanitation from hygienic toilet use and the practice of hand-washing after defecation among community members and school children. One community member shared, “Diarrhea was common in the village before. Now, no diarrhea.”
- The newly sketched maps of the communities revealed that the project has increased the ownership of toilets. Of 146 households surveyed, 86.3% had a private toilet at their house, and 95% were improved pit toilet.
- There have been some positive unexpected consequences from the implementation of the project. Qualitative information revealed that community members considered the ownership of a toilet and a private dug well as a symbol of improved living standard.
- Community volunteers received training on water, sanitation and hygiene and shared their knowledge to others in the community. They played a major role in organising community members to attend health education sessions and distributing materials around sanitation, water treatment, water storage and rainwater collection.
- The proportions of those practicing boiling water and using clay pot filters saw a marked increase after the project. There was also a reduction of those using less non-effective water filtering methods and those who did not practice any methods to purify water.
- Hand washing has improved in the community. One community member said, “Now, even children use toilet. School teachers taught them how to use it. They wash hands after toilet.”
What does all this mean? The result of improved access to safe water and sanitation facilities along with enhanced knowledge around hygiene practices means healthier, stronger communities that can sustain themselves. By empowering communities and building capacity families can play an active role in changing their future for the better and sharing this knowledge with others.