Friday, August 7, 2015

Bukaigo: Community Sensitization

On July 9th we held our first community outreach session in Bukaigo. The focus of this sensitization was on clean water, personal hygiene, and sanitation. In an open forum we taught the community about the importance of the WHO recommended safe water chain, which includes maintaining a clean and sanitary water source, proper transport of water from the water source to the home, and correct treatment and storage of water once at home. We also taught about various common diseases caused by poor sanitation practices such as dysentery, hookworm, typhoid, cholera, and schistosomiasis. We focused on the causes of these diseases, their signs and symptoms, and how to prevent them from spreading. Later in the week we performed a needs assessment in two water scarce zones of the Buvule village. Now that the needs assessments are complete, UVP can assist the community in constructing new shallow wells to make access to clean water easier for community members living in these zones. As we were doing the needs assessment, we realized that because of the far distance to the nearest borehole, many people are drinking untreated water directly from the nearby swamp.

Although our first sensitization in Bukaigo was a success, our first community sensitization in Buvule we had very low attendance by community memebers. It was so disappointing since a lot of effort was put in preparing for it. However, this has helped us plan better for upcoming community outreaches since we learned that the venue we chose was not a good one and that we did not mobilize well enough. We have come up with a better community mobilization technique that will ensure that more members of the community turn up and venues for upcoming outreaches are being chosen carefully. Since learning from our failure in Buvule, our more recent sensitizations have had sufficient audiences.

This past week, we held a meeting with our Bukaigo and Buvule VHTs. We spent part of our time reviewing health information about WASH, malaria, and family planning. Since this is the last summer that these villages have UVP interns, it is especially important that they are well educated on these topics. After clarifying some amusing questions about family planning methods, we collected Most Significant Change Stories from our VHTs and took their photographs. They loved looking at their photographs afterwards! During the meeting, we also planned out our borehole cleanup day and brainstormed some ideas on how the VHTs could continue to promote health in coordination with the health center, including encouraging the health center to start selling WaterGuard and hosting a malaria testing or HIV testing day. Overall, the meeting was a great success and we all left feeling motivated to pursue our new ideas.

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