No WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene), no women’s HEALTH.
Services, Means & Skills
Without clean water, sanitation facilities or hygienic practices, women and their families experience ill health, distress and other adverse impacts.
During pregnancy, women’s ability to fight against infection is compromised. Consumption of contaminated water or unhygienic practices can lead to maternal death and put newborn children as well as other family members at greater health risks . Giving births in unhygienic conditions – at home or the hospital – is another risk factor.
Lack of access to WASH also results in deepening structural violence against women, particularly those in rural areas. Already taking care of 8-10 family members on average, many women and girls in rural Sudan experience physical pain and psychological distress from travelling long distances to collect water, during which they become vulnerable to sexual violence.
The situation is even worse for those living with HIV/AIDS. Diarrhea caused by contaminated water can reduce the medical effectiveness of ART. With the suppressed immune system, lack of access to sanitary facilities and good hygiene does nothing but increase their vulnerability. As their family members require more care giving time, commuting for water collection prevents them from engaging in other activities, such as attending school and generating income.
To address such issues, we build communal wells and water tanks in rural villages with limited access to clean water or high HIV/AIDS prevalence while facilitating sanitary facilities and workshops around hand washing, water treatment and reproductive health. We also focus on building the midwifery capacity of rural communities, including standard obstetric care and sterilization methods. Going beyond, we promote conservation natural resource management as part of our climate change initiative to bring about a better WASH environment.
Further, we reach out to female prisons. Given the social stigma around such a facility, female prisoners tend to lack access to drinking water or basic sanitary products. No health care service or nutritious meals are available even for those who are pregnant or with babies. The kind of physical or mental health that they experience is largely neglected. We advocate for their human dignity by facilitating services and means that are complementary to achieve greater WASH and women’s health.
Knowledge & Awareness Raising
We recognize that there are particular marginalized groups of women and girls who are more susceptible to WASH related health risks. We advocate for them and think with them.
As one of our flagship activities, we fight to stop practicing Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). It is a harmful practice that poses considerable health risks in itself. In an environment where there is limited access to WASH, FGM-induced infections are easily spread through the recurring use of contaminated instruments in multiple operations. This can also increase the risk of spreading HIV/AIDS or other communicable diseases. The operation itself can cause death or hinder girl’s long-term health in terms of menstruation, urination, obstructed labor and psychological trauma.
For another, we are the first organization in Sudan to reach out to sex-workers to raise awareness around HIV/AIDS impact, preventive methods and support systems. We also flag the fact that people living with HIV/AIDS make them suffer disproportionately from the WASH related adverse health impacts because of their weakened immune system.
Further, we raise awareness around the role of nutrition as a complementary factor to issues around WASH and health. Examples include advocating for providing nutritious meals for female prisoners and training mothers in child nutrition.