Sanitation and Hygiene Education Community Centre in Gicumbi-Byumba, Rwanda
With a simultaneous focus on infrastructure and education, this new Center built by AIMPO will improve hygiene, washing practices, and overall health of around 360 community members.
The project includes the construction of ten toilets - 1 for every 3 neighboring households - while also empowering the community to plan for improvements and to own and operate WASH facilities.
At the same time, the Center will feature educational materials aimed at improving the community's knowledge, attitudes and practices regarding sanitation and hygiene management, therefore also improving the community's self-esteem.
The project entails several other activities to promote hygiene, like door-to-door visits and campaigns. It recognizes the influence of faith leaders, local leaders, and community members who will be trained to spread hygiene messages. A sanitation toolkit has been developed to enhance the project's impact. Two trainers will train community hygiene promoters, ensuring widespread knowledge and skills.
Local leaders at the village, cell, and sector levels will actively participate in the project's implementation and continue monitoring its progress, success, and impact even after completion. AIMPO will be affiliated with the Joint Action Development Forum of Gicumbi and collaborate with local partners in the district to promote and improve the socio-economic conditions of the communities beyond the project's phase-out. Additionally, community members will be identified and trained to ensure their capacity to sustainably monitor the project's outcomes and impacts once it concludes.
As mentioned above, the Batwa communities in Gicumbi where this project is being implemented find themselves ensnared in a dire hunger crisis. The ambitious endeavor to construct the Health and Hygiene Education Community Center encounters heightened complexity as community members, integral to the project's success, grapple with profound vulnerability. Consequently, this grant extends its reach beyond infrastructure development, earmarking resources to provide essential emergency food support—a sphere where AIMPO has cultivated expertise over many years.
UPDATE FROM SEPTEMBER 2023
As mentioned above, AIMPO found a dire situation in their latest visit to Gicumbi. To deal with the urgent problems faced by the community, AIMPO is working to build partnerships and access funding opportunities for two other important projects: improving the housing infrastructure and developing food security solutions.
Construction of the new Sanitation and Hygiene Education Community Centre began during this latest visit, but AIMPO also embarked on a community outreach program to improve overall community hygiene, provide relief from jigger infestations, and enhance the overall well-being of the community members.
4 AIMPO staff members and 12 volunteers from the community conducted home visits to engage directly with community members. During these visits, the team provided guidance on proper house cleaning techniques and hygiene practices. AIMPO distributed hygiene kits containing essential items such as soaps to every household, and the team conducted hands-on demonstrations on the proper use of these items. A community-wide clothes washing event was also organized, and AIMPO provided basins and soaps for this purpose, fostering a sense of communal participation.
Faced with the severe health implications of jigger infestations, the team organized sessions to help community members heal from jiggers. Skilled professionals were brought in to safely remove jiggers, clean wounds, and provide necessary medical care.
Recognizing that personal hygiene extends to grooming, AIMPO arranged for a professional barber to provide haircuts to community members who wished to partake, boosting self-esteem and overall well-being.
AIMPO also supplied essential food items to the community to alleviate immediate food insecurity concerns. This included staple foods such as maize flour.
The response from the community was overwhelmingly positive. Community members were eager to implement the hygiene practices they had learned and appreciated the immediate relief provided by the jigger treatment.
Besides continuing to work on the Sanitation and Hygiene Education Community Centre, AIMPO is committed to the long-term well-being of the community. To ensure sustained improvements in hygiene and living conditions, they plan to conduct follow-up visits to monitor progress and address any emerging issues. AIMPO is also exploring opportunities for skill development and income generation within the community.
UPDATE FROM NOVEMBER 2023
In November, AIMPO returned to Gicumbi, renewing its commitment to addressing the hunger crisis afflicting the Batwa community amidst the ongoing WASH project implementation. Beyond immediate nutritional relief, AIMPO broadened its relief efforts to include the distribution of essential cooking utensils, as it seeks to address systemic issues contributing to food safety concerns.
This comprehensive assistance package comprised 1750kg of Maize Flour, 1750kg of Rice, 1750kg of Beans, 210 L of Oil, along with 140 Basins and 140 Saucepans.
AIMPO's holistic approach aligns with its history of significant food security initiatives among Batwa communities in Rwanda. The organization's ongoing research aims to identify sustainable and reliable food sources tailored to the unique needs of this community. However, given the urgency of the prevailing circumstances, the distribution of emergency food support remains a paramount and timely measure to confront the immediate challenges on the ground.
A few weeks following the distribution of emergency food support, AIMPO took another significant step by procuring sweet potato seeds. Subsequently, the organization rallied the Gicumbi community for a day dedicated to planting this new crop.
In its commitment to ensuring both immediate and sustainable food security, AIMPO is strategically targeting the communities' primary vulnerabilities. By doing so, it is laying the groundwork for the successful establishment and operation of the Sanitation and Hygiene Education Community Centre.