Life is hard for twenty-three-year-old Eliza, a returnee from Sudan. Eliza was born and raised in the slums of Khartoum and has arrived just four months ago with her family to South Sudan.
"Life has been so hard for us," says Eliza, "My dad died a few years back and all I have are my six siblings and mother." Eliza and her family live in a small hut made from local materials such as sticks, mud and grass.
Eliza's house lacks safe drinking water, a kitchen, restroom and a shower room, which is a common situation for many families. Recent surveys1 show that barely 34% of the people in South Sudan have access to safe water supplies and even less, 15% access adequate sanitary latrines, the lowest service coverage statistics in the world.
"When we first arrived, we stayed at the Way Station where water, shower rooms and restrooms were easily available, and that helped us a lot," Eliza said.
UNICEF and its partners provide support to the Malakal way station by providing emergency water tanks, latrine construction kits, distribute jerry cans, soap, hygiene kits and sanitation cleaning kits and water purification tablets for those on transit or departing the Way Station.
In addition, to providing emergency Water and Sanitation (WASH) services, UNICEF and its partners work with returnee communities to provide safe water and sanitation facilities. Communities are trained on the importance of owning and using a latrine at household level to promote healthy living and bring dignity and protection especially to women through a Community Approaches to Total Sanitation (CATS) programme.
Eliza says that now that her family has returned and are no longer in the way station they are digging their own latrine. "It is important to have a latrine in the house," she says. "I'm tired of having to go to the neighbours to ease myself especially at night when I feel unsafe to go outside."
Ms. Sarla Varma, a UNICEF WASH Specialist is optimistic about the Community Approached to Total Sanitation programme. "It ignites a change in sanitation behaviour in the community in rural settings," she says. "The community is empowered through participatory approaches collectively to find solutions for their inadequate sanitation and end open defecation practice."
Our latrine and shower room is almost complete,"" says Eliza smiling. "We have come a long way from Khartoum but we are home now and are grateful for the help we have received along the way."
Through the generous contribution of concerned donors, UNICEF can continue to support people like Eliza and her family in their transition back to South Sudan.
1. 2010 Sudan Household Health Survey