Promoting good health and hygiene in AngolaPublished: Nov 5, 2021 Reading time: 3 minutes
On the 14th of October, the commune of Chipeta in Angola’s Bié Province was certified as open defecation free (ODF). It was the third commune in Angola to achieve this certification, joining the ranks of Gamba and Nharea. Guilhermina Nonjamba, a resident of the village of Calombwale in Chipeta, says: “The village is very beautiful now. A lot of people used to defecate in the open, in the bushes, but now there are latrines, and an overall improvement in health and hygiene.”
These improvements in Chipeta and other communities in Bié Province have been possible thanks to the Community and School-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) programme being implemented by People in Need (PIN) in partnership with UNICEF. Since 2015, more than 120,000 people have benefited from this project.
Using community outreach as a tool for health
The process of promoting better hygiene and sanitation begins with the mobilisation of local residents. The PIN team, together with local activists, raises awareness about the risks of contamination of food and water sources from open defecation, and how this can lead to disease. Residents are taught to mitigate these risks by building latrines from locally-sourced materials, and implementing basic handwashing practices; together, these two measures are the most effective means of preventing the spread of disease.
Lino Canganjo, a resident of Chipeta trained by PIN’s team to promote good hygiene and sanitation practices in his community, says: “We faced many difficulties because of diseases such as diarrhoea, which came from open-air defecation. Thanks to PIN’s project, and with the help of the social mobilisers who spread information about safe sanitation practices in the communities, we’re doing away with these diseases.”
Nonjamba, a traditional village leader, or soba, says: “We sensitise the community by going door-to-door, so that people have good examples to follow.”
Roberto Embumbwa, Municipal Director of Environment and Sanitation in Nharea, notes: “At first, when we arrive to work in the communities, people don’t consider this project very important. But then we give an example: when we see a Boeing airplane in the sky, it’s small, but when it’s near us, it’s very big. In the same way, we should treat the CLTS as if it was an airplane from close up. People are getting it.”
Fighting the spread of COVID-19 with soap and water
Good handwashing practices have become even more critical in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through CLTS, the PIN team has raised awareness about protective measures, and delivered hygiene and sanitation supplies to help communities, schools, and health centres fight COVID-19.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has noted that people need between 50 and 100 litres of water per day to meet their basic needs, with a single handwash requiring approximately two litres. To help ensure access to sufficient clean water in Angola, PIN has distributed 2,115 buckets, 64 water containers with capacities of 100 or 200 litres, 70 water filters, and more than 1,900,000 water treatment tablets for cleaning over 65,000,000 litres of water since June 2020. PIN has also donated 12,500 pairs of gloves, 250 bottles of alcohol-based hand sanitiser, over 400 litres of bleach, and more than 1,300 bars of soap.
During a ceremony held for the delivery of the donations, Florência Simão, Environment and Educational Health Supervisor in Bié Province, thanked PIN for the materials: “We thank you and we want to ask the community representatives with us here today to tell their communities to put these materials to the best use.”
PIN has been working to promote good hygiene and sanitation practices in Angola since 2010.