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Bringing clean water to internally displaced people in northeast Nigeria

March 22, 2017

The humanitarian crisis in northeast Nigeria has displaced 1.4 million people in Borno State alone. To help alleviate the most immediate needs of the region, FHI 360’s Integrated Humanitarian Assistance to Northeast Nigeria project is delivering lifesaving services at the camps where internally displaced persons live in the Borno State areas of Dikwa and Ngala. Priority interventions are focused on improving water, sanitation and hygiene to address health conditions at these camps. The project is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) through its Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance.

hand washingOn World Water Day, 24 new taps providing clean water will begin serving up to 17,300 people, including 1,000 pregnant women and 2,000 breastfeeding mothers (International Organization for Migration Site Profile, January 2017), at the Sangaya camp — the most populous camp in Dikwa. Previously, Sangaya had only two functioning taps to serve all its residents. With the onset of the dry season, this increased access to safe water for drinking and hygiene is crucial.

At Sangaya, the camp residents have become involved and invested. They have done some of the construction work to build these taps, including enhancing boreholes and building the structures around them. To further involve residents, FHI 360 staff will be working with camp chairpeople and community volunteers to form a water management committee. The committee will consist of 60 percent women and 40 percent men. There are also 10 women and 10 men who serve as community volunteers to promote good hygiene practices to residents. In the near future, the project plans to collaborate with camp chairpeople and residents to run clean-up campaigns.

Expanding access to clean water is not the only critical improvement. FHI 360 pumped out the latrines, which were full and had become an urgent public health issue. Combined with the lack of clean water and poor hygiene practices, these conditions could have led to a cholera outbreak.

The project, which focuses on delivering an integrated response that addresses multiple urgent needs simultaneously, provides other types of humanitarian assistance in these camps, to include primary health care, reproductive health care and protection against gender-based violence. Project staff closely coordinate these efforts with the water and sanitation activities to produce the quickest, most effective results.

Piet deVries, FHI 360’s Technical Director for Crisis Response, summed up the project’s important work, “By providing these key water, sanitation and hygiene interventions in Dikwa and Ngala, as the hot, dry season takes hold, we are trying to avoid a public health crisis, which would add to the difficulties of this complex emergency. With expanded access to safe water and sanitation and hygiene promotion, coupled with primary health care, the risk of a severe diarrheal disease outbreak is significantly reduced.”

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