Community Health Promotion Initiative in Juba, Southern Sudan
November 1, 2007
The influx of returnees to Juba in 2007 was causing severe pressure on housing services and an already overstretched infrastructure. 21 years of civil war destroyed much of the region’s infrastructure and so standards of sanitation were very poor. Inadequate basic services and limited availability of pit latrines forced people to use open spaces. Also traditional beliefs among some tribes did not encourage the use of latrines. These factors, combined with a high population density and inadequate sanitation systems, mean that the spread of disease is a severe problem.
This programme was set up to mobilise youth in promoting environmental sanitation and the prevention of communicable diseases. Returnee youth faced problems of poor educational opportunities and no job openings. There were few further education institutions and those that existed required students to have ID papers, which few returnees had.
This project demonstrated the links between sport and play and environmental sanitation through community activities – using drama, sport occasions, play days and peer groups to disseminate messages.
The beneficiaries included: 10 youth groups in Juba – approx 3000 youth – and 15 schools in Juba county – 20 youth leaders and 2,500 students.
The youth groups organised discussion and debate focused on responding to sanitation issues in Juba. Peer groups were formed in schools along with parent support groups to promote general hygiene.
Local youth groups and youth volunteers including IDPs, returnees, refugees, people from the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports and local residents were trained in red ball play as a means of promoting environmental awareness. Despite low female participation, the overall attendance was impressive. Whilst starting with only 13 children from various schools at an orientation in December, eventually the cumulative amount of participants totaled 1586 males and 664 females, with over 3000 having access to sports equipment. Over 10 youth groups had continual access to events throughout the year. The sanitation week events attracted 1718 people, with 326 children involved in the march. Towards the end of the program, previously taboo topics such as discussing latrines were overcome to assist in the learning of the community about the importance of sanitation.
“I’m happy today of what the project has organized for us. I have now understood that sanitation is like saying; keep yourself clean —Hakim, 18 yrs from Munuki.”