Helping migrant workers, their families, and the host communities with good hygiene practicesPublished: Oct 21, 2022 Reading time: 5 minutes
The migrant-centred “Aye Chan Thaw Ein” (ACTE) project aims to strengthen and empower migrants and their families through multi-sectoral interventions. The project covers such topics as awareness of safe migration and labour rights, enhancing vocational skills and providing opportunities for upward mobility, promoting healthier nutritional behaviour and improving access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities and practices in Shwe Pyi Thar township, Yangon Region.
Under the project, People in Need (PIN) and our consortium partner, Community Development Association (CDA), have provided lifesaving WASH assistance to migrant workers, their families, and the host community. The project allows migrants to adopt safe hygiene practices and access improved WASH facilities in six wards in the Shwe Pyi Thar township.
The peri-urban area of Yangon, Shwe Pyi Thar township, has been negatively impacted by unhealthy and environmentally unfriendly behaviours, such as dumping waste into drains, rivers, streams, or creeks due to low potential rates of disposal at community dumping sites. This severely impacts and harms the surrounding environment and causes risks for the population during the rainy season.
As part of WASH assistance, we—together with CDA—have improved WASH-related hardware, such as drainage, conducted emergency clearing, and offered innovative solutions for waste management through a participatory community approach. Moreover, CDA awarded community grants to address specific WASH-related issues and promote engagement with the household- and community levels on gender-responsive WASH solutions, including sanitation, hygiene and menstrual hygiene management (MHM) and waste management.
Improved access to waste management and drainage system
As part of WASH-related hardware solutions, CDA has constructed 11 concrete community drainage culvert systems in six wards. U Maung Maung (name has been changed for security reasons) member of the targeted wards says, “we thank CDA and donors for upgrading drainage systems and providing emergency cleaning process in our ward. There were floods in our ward in previous rainy seasons due to the lack of good waste disposal management. Most household members are migrant workers in our ward, with minimal waste disposal knowledge. Although we put warning signs at each drain not to throw anything into these drainages, people did not follow the instructions.” He adds, “with a small grant program from the CDA and community participation, we renovated our main drain. Because of the support from the ACTE project, the drainage systems are free to flow smoothly, and flooding is also prevented.”
U Kyi (name has been changed for security reasons) also expresses his gratitude to CDA, “I lived near the main community drainage. In the past, during heavy rains, waste was stuck in the drainage and caused flooding where water entered our houses. While drain water was trapped, it created bad smells and contained many mosquitoes. Now, these problems have been solved with the support of CDA. Thanks to CDA and its donors for cleaning the drainage system and maintaining the upgrade of it.”
As part of the lifesaving WASH assistance, such as drainage systems and waste management, it aimed to benefit a more significant number of community members and migrant workers who reside in the wards for sustainability beyond the project life. CDA also conducted capacity-building activities, especially on sanitation, hygiene and menstrual hygiene management practices at the grassroots level where women, adolescent girls, the elderly and persons with disability can have easier access to learning opportunities.
Regarding the behaviour changes of waste disposal and good hygiene and sanitation practices, CDA conducted behavioural change campaigns at five wards in Shwe Pyi Thar township. Ko Win Htut Thein, a project manager at CDA addresses how to implement good hygiene practices among the host community and internal migrants. "CDA aims to assist and improve the lives of migrant workers and their families by sharing knowledge about improved WASH facilities and good hygiene practices through awareness-raising activities. In total, CDA reached 8,148 individuals, of which 6,242 were women and girls.”
He added that “the awareness sessions focused on intensified hygiene promotion on handwashing and menstrual hygiene management by holding small groups at each ward. Along with this session, CDA distributed hygiene supplies to all participants.” Also, CDA organised three public events on behaviour change, including handwashing, menstrual hygiene, and waste disposal public campaigns from December 2021 to March 2022. CDA also provided hygiene items to the host community and the migrants’ families actively involved in the campaigns. Through menstrual hygiene management awareness and education sessions, CDA reached a total of 2,981 beneficiaries, including 2,709 women and girls and 272 boys and men.
Safe water for host communities and migrant workers
To access safe water and prevent water-borne diseases in Shwe Pyi Thar, CDA has constructed a 200-foot-long community drainage system in ward 21. First, CDA organised a community-level committee on WASH solutions based on their needs and provided a grant to implement with the collaboration of community members.
One of the committee members U Kyaw Moe (name has been changed for security reasons) shares their needs. “Our ward is quite close to Hlaing River, and flood water always enters the ward when it rains. We rely on water sources from community ponds but need to access clean water. Water resources are enough for us in the rainy season, but we face water scarcity in the dry season. With the ACTE project’s long-term support, CDA provided one water truck and constructed the drainage system near the school compound. With this water truck, we will be safe for clean water access and no need to worry about flood water next season. Thanks to CDA and PIN for supporting us.”
People in Need and its consortium partners have been working together under the Aye Chan Thaw Ein project in collaboration with ward development committees to meet the needs of internal migrant workers and reduce the vulnerability of internal migrants with the financial support of the Livelihoods and Food Security Trust Fund (LIFT) in Myanmar.