Mulatu Gabre is a health officer who has worked with ORBIS in Konso, Ethiopia for more than 4 years. He has extensive knowledge and experience in eye care programs, particularly in eradicating trachoma. He knows the area very well and is actively involved in water development activities.
The impact of working in water development is beyond trachoma control and is directly related to the quality of life of the community. Major childhood killer diseases are related with poor hygiene and sanitation and scarcity of water. Hence, working or contributing towards this activity not only reduces the prevalence of trachoma, but improves quality of life throughout a community.
To reduce the episodes of trachoma ORBIS is desperately trying to transform this region. ORBIS aims to eliminate trachoma from this region not only through conducting eye surgery to correct the disease and through distributing the antibiotic zithromax (kindly donated by Pfizer), but also by improving sanitation by providing clean water and building latrines.
In the fight against blinding trachoma, the roles of schools are found to be very significant. In linking schools with Health extension workers, community health agents, integrated eye care workers and identifying children with sight problems, teachers play a central role. Through teacher training and establishing eye care clubs in schools, it is possible to access communities to bring long term behavioral changes and greater impacts at community level.
With your support we will continue to work towards completely transforming this region so the next generation can grow up free of the threat of blindness.
In Ethiopia, one of the best ways to prevent the transmission of trachoma is by encouraging face and hand washing - not easy where water is scarce. This will help to slow the spread of bacteria which causes infection and ultimately prevent people from contracting trachoma. ORBIS representatives have started to train teachers about facial cleanliness, personal hygiene, environmental sanitation and how to wash hands effectively to prevent the spread of bacteria.
In order to train the local community, it is important that water is readily available. The biggest challenge in water development and provision is not the initial cost (which is very high), but the maintenance and follow –up of its function.
Within the Konso area in southern Ethiopia, almost 60% of the water-pumps were non functional. ORBIS implemented a strategy to repair the non-functional water schemes. This involves training community members on how to perform minor repairs on these pumps to ensure they are in working order. A WASH committee was also set up to generate revenue for the repair. This strategy is focused on the repair of these non-functional schemes and handing over the responsibility to the communities, which is a very cost effective approach.
A single water scheme could serve a population of up to 100 households. If the scheme is located in a school it can serve more than 1000 students. The average cost of maintenance is about ETB10, 000 or approx €400.
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