World Environment Day Hygiene Promotion Event in Za’atari Camp
JEN conducts hygiene education activities in order for Syrian refugees to live in sanitary environments with access to clean water and to decrease illnesses associated with poor hygiene. In Za’atari Camp, over half of the population of about 80 thousand is 17 years old and younger. Activities targeting children are necessary since it also results in their psychological care.
June 5th was World Environment Day; therefore from June 3rd to June 5th we conducted a three-day hygiene promotion event. This was geared towards having the children in Districts 3, 4 and 5 of the Za’atari Refugee Camp enjoy learning about hygiene.
On the 1st and 2nd days of the event, JEN promoters conveyed hygiene messages to children through games, songs, quizzes and dances. JEN will repeatedly hold such events aimed at having children learn how to practice good personal hygiene and acquire the habit of washing their hands and faces.
On the 3rd day of the event, JEN’s promoters organized focus groups with adults in order to discuss saving and safety of water. The promoters participated in group meetings as advisers, where several issues of waterborne diseases such as diarrhoea, as well as water conservation were discussed. On the same day, for the purpose of raising awareness of environmental protection, refugees planted sage in their camp located in the middle of desert. At the present time, refugees face problems such as an unhygienic environment and plagues of flies and mice because of the lack of trees and poor drainage.
JEN will keep working with the refugees in bettering the environment of the camp, providing safe water and familiarizing themselves with the practice of washing their hands and brushing their teeth.
Completion of the Construction of 12 Classrooms
As a part of host community assistance activities, JEN built 12 classrooms in 4 schools and repaired water facilities such as bathrooms and hand-wash facilities in Irbid, Mafraq and Zarqa Prefectures.
The number of Syrian refugees has sharply increased and Syrian children have started attending public schools in the Prefectures in Jordan. However, the local schools cannot cope with the sudden surge of students. At the moment, the Syrian and Jordan children have to study in classrooms that are too small for them. To deal with this issue, it is imperative additional classrooms are built and water facilities are prepared.
In order to cope with an increasingly overcrowded learning environment, Jordan's Ministry of Education has adopted a double shift system in crowded schools. However, students cannot attend classes in the schools full-time due to the system. The student's school time is reduced.
JEN will continue to enhance the learning environment by repairing water facilities and constructing additional classrooms. We will keep working hard for both Syrian and Jordan children so that they do not become hindered by their educational environment.
Washing and Chlorinating Water Tanks
From July, we had been cleaning and disinfecting 311 drinking water tanks with chlorine in JEN’s activity area. Our staff had been working to clean up 10 to 15 tanks per day with chlorine. In the region, the temperature gradually rises from May, exceeding 30 degrees C in the summer time. As every refugee uses the water in the tanks as drinking water, we were concerned about the hygienic situation worsening due to heat.
Water tanks were set in various places and water was supplied to all tanks every day. JEN worked to wash and disinfect the tanks with chlorine in the three districts where it is working as a focal organization of the hygiene issue. Polluted water may cause serious health problems so we do our best to ensure healthy and safe living in Za’atari camp.
Cleaning Up the Camp
Each month, JEN launches a cleaning campaign with the people in Za’atari camp. The main objective of the campaign is to have the refugees be motivated to keep their environment clean. JEN organized August’s campaign on August 27th.
During the campaign, JEN’s staff asked the community to participate in the campaign. Because some refugees do not view the camp as their permanent home, less attention is paid to the environment. However, the campaign raises awareness of the disadvantages of littering in the streets and the prevention of disease caused by bad hygiene practices. In August the total number of participants was around 20 refugees.
One of the participants shared his thoughts with us saying, “This campaign is a good opportunity to work with agencies and the community together. I hope this activity will continue.” Another participant also commented, “I like this campaign with JEN because the community can work together. It will not only improve the environment but also prevent disease caused by hygiene problems.”
Responding to the Need of Each School
JEN has been involved in providing aid for Syrian refugee students living in host communities for over a year. Specifically, JEN continues to renovate water and sanitation facilities and provide hygiene promotion activities in Jordanian public schools. JEN’s renovation of one hundred fifty schools is almost complete, despite it being a difficult project due to the scale of it.
One of the schools JEN renovated initially only had four latrines for about one thousand boys. After consulting the Directorate of Education Engineer team and the headmaster of the school, JEN remodeled a storage room into new latrines. In another school of both boys and girls, girls were hesitant to use the latrines because they were not separated by gender. Therefore, JEN created separate restrooms by converting the dead space into the girls’ latrines. JEN conducted careful case by case assessments of each school where practicality and cost effectiveness were of importance.
The headmistress of one school JEN renovated posted on the school’s Facebook page: “Thank you very much to JEN and all participating in the improvement of our school’s environment.” JEN has decided to renovate an additional fifty schools and has started building new classrooms to accommodate for the increasing number of students.
New magazine in Za’atari “Al Tarik”
In January 2014 JEN, in collaboration with UNHCR, created a monthly Arabic magazine, in which the first issue was published in April and distributed to approximately 200,000 homes in May. The magazine strived to create communication between districts in the 6km-long camp possible. It also serves to spread messages about healthier living by the UN and other organizations and a place for Syrian refugees to showcase their creativity and unique stories.
In the first issue, there were articles by hygiene promoters advocating environmental hygiene, children sharing their experiences of joining a sports club teams, a child about how her life was saved by nutrition programs on the campsite, and a young girl who shared her poem about missing her life in Syria and hoping to return to her home. The name of the article is “Al Tarik” or “The Road” to symbolize the refugees’ journeys and convey that they will one day return to Syria. The articles are written by refugees, but the magazine is coordinated and edited by the Jordanian staff. Eventually JEN and other organizations hope to provide magazine development training opportunities, such as journalism and graphic design, so that refugees can manage the magazine on their own. This will give opportunities to refugees, especially the youth, to better their lives.
Azraq Camp Opening
On Wednesday April 30th, 2014 Azraq camp officially opened as the largest refugee camp in the region. It spans 15 square kilometers and is located 100km east of Amman, the capital of Jordan. Azraq Camp is ready to host 51,000 refugees and can be expanded to accommodate 130,000 refugees in total. In the past this location was used to host Iraqi refugees so it is not near the Syrian border. New Syrian refugees will be sent to Azraq, which is composed of 4 districts that resemble small villages, unless they have close relatives already in Za’atari or they are severely injured. Azraq will alleviate Za’atari’s overcrowded facilities and help Za’atari leave emergency mode of 2 years. In addition, Azraq will help stabilize committees of refugees in charge of leading the population so that the Syrian refugees can one day self-manage and achieve self-reliance.
The New Year is a time for the JEN’s hygiene promotion team in the Za’atari camp to start a new project for children. Nearly 40% of the camp’s population are children under 11; our projects will provide them with psychosocial care as well as promoting good hygiene behaviour.
On 16 January 2014, JEN kicked off our hygiene promotion in 2014 with a monthly hygiene promotion event for children at the JEN’s tent in District 4. The key message of January 2014 is “personal hygiene.” Further to the key message of December 2013, “water conservation,” we stressed the importance of water by some ingenious activities: singing songs, a play by Syrian children, quiz contest, and poster contest under the theme of “What does water mean to you?” And of course, you can’t end a party without gifts! All children who attended the event received a hygiene pack containing toothbrush, toothpaste and soap. Through these activities for children, we have been working on hygiene promotion in the camp. JEN stuff is looking forward to the next event in February 2014—for sure, children are looking forward it too!
Our hygiene project has been carried out also for public schools in local communities outside of the camp. The JEN Amman office, which has provided assistance to Syrian refugees for over a year, is just about to finish all renovation works in 150 schools. One of the schools used to have only four latrine seats despite the large scale of over 1,000 boy students. JEN discussed with the Directorate of Education Engineer team and the headmaster and remodelled a storeroom into new latrines. In a mixed school where boy students and girl students used to use the same latrines, girls were hesitant to use the latrines as boys would be playing nearby. So we refurbished the dead space in the back to extend the latrines, then built a partition to separate them for boys and girls. Thus, the JEN engineering team renovates schools on a case-by-case basis, identifying what is required and what can be done. Relatively-young members’ passion for good-quality work can’t be overestimated. With increasing needs, we have not only planned to renovate water and sanitation facilities in another 50 schools, but also we have started building new classrooms to expand school capacities in order to accept Syrian students.
[Emergency Material Distribution]
15 March 2014 marked three years since the conflict in Syria broke out. JEN has started distributing clothes to new arrivals in the reception area of the Za’atari camp to meet the needs of refugees. Since 10 March 2014, we have distributed a bag filled with clothes donated by our partners to each newly arrived families. Because we are unable to conduct pre-survey on family size and structure among new refugees, we are required to instantly arrange each bag on their arrival. Thanks to seven distribution staff working 24/7 on a two-shift system, we assisted more than 800 individuals for the first three days. They were very glad to receive warm clothes in the middle of the night. This project couldn’t have done this smoothly without hard work of the warehouse team who carefully sorts and repacks donated clothes. The team has already prepared 40,000 individual sets since the beginning of January 2014! The number of refugees arriving in the Za’atari camp varies every day, but the JEN team is ready to welcome them with warm clothes any time.
The second winter has come since JEN started its support in Za'atari camp and the host communities in Jordan.
The rainy season and winter come at the same time in this country. While it was severely snowing in Amman, heavy rain poured on Za'atari, 50 km east of Amman. Although precipitation is usually limited and rain is a precious water resource in Jordan, this rain caused flood damages in Za'atari camp and Syrian refugees’ dwellings were submerged.
JEN started emergency assistance in cooperation with UNHCR and other INGOs to mitigate the flood damages caused by the rain in Za'atari camp. The caravans and tents were badly immersed in the puddles of various sizes formed by this rain. Other concerns that emerged were the danger caused by the electric cables and the deterioration of the hygienic environment.
The day after it started raining, JEN immediately allocated five trucks with the sump pump and a tank. More than 20 of JEN staff members were engaged in the operation and almost 1228 m3 of stagnating water was taken out of the camp. Two more trucks were prepared in case the situation worsened.
In addition, JEN established an emergency hotline with all WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) Committees so that they would be able to inform JEN of the puddles with the risk of electric shock. JEN’s hygiene promoters and community mobilizers also played an important role in preventing the residences from flood damages. The WASH Committees received the distribution of shovels and pickaxes in advance as weather forecast announced heavy rain. The hygiene promoters and the community mobilizers went on house-to-house visits, informing and advising refugees about the availability of the tools in addition to instructing them on the proper usage of the tools.
Warm Clothes Distributed to Syrian Refugees in Zaatari to Support Them Face Winter
To get ready to face the cold temperatures, a winterization program was launched at the beginning of December by the organizations working in Za'atari camp, and JEN took an active part in it by distributing warm clothes to the Syrian refugees.
Since the Camp is located in the desert, the nights can be very hard to endure especially for the thousands of families still living in tents, with kids and babies.
To help them face the harsh temperatures, JEN has distributed personalized family packages containing a set of warm clothes to every family member. To fit the needs of each household, the bags distributed were organized in a system of more than 350 different types corresponding to each type of family who is resident in the camp.
JEN has incorporated refugees in the target area into every step of distribution. Several meetings with the community groups in each district in the camp were held in order to increase the feeling of ownership of the distribution process and take responsibility in building their community.
A new day dawning marks the onset of a distribution day for JEN’s staff as the trucks need to be loaded by 5 a.m. They then take the road for an hour drive to get to the camp in a convoy of 8 to 16 trucks depending on the size of the district.
Each truck is loaded with boxes to be distributed to one or two streets in a district. When the trucks arrive at the camp, each of them is accompanied by JEN’s staff members who would lead the way to the destination.
When JEN staff visit the districts where distribution has been completed in the previous weeks, they receive positive feedback from the refugees. Refugees are happy with the quality of the clothes, the personalized packages, and the way they have been involved in the distribution process.
Inspired by JEN’s Hygiene Promotion
Currently around 77% of Syrian refugees in Jordan temporarily live in host communities outside of the camps.
In Jordanian public schools of the host communities, JEN is working on the renovation of water facilities and sanitation facilities, and hygiene promotion activities. Hygiene promotion activities consist of teacher training on hygiene education and student hygiene sessions conducted under the supervision of the trained teachers.
Student hygiene sessions in some schools in Zarqa governorate were carried out by JEN’s hygiene promoters. The contents of the student sessions were developed by sharing various education methods between JEN’s hygiene promoters and the teachers on training.
One classroom’s theme of the hygiene promotion activity was cholera, one of the water-borne diseases. The class started with the students’ role-play. In it, a child who buys and eats snacks from an unhygienic food stall suffers from a stomachache and may have to go to see a doctor. It was a full-fledged roll-play: the student who played the role of a stall seller painted a mustache on her face while the student who performed as a doctor checked up Vibrio cholera under a microscope.
The expressive role-play was followed by groups’ work in which each group wrote down the causes, symptoms, prevention, and treatment of cholera on big sheets of paper, which was then followed by a plenary discussion.
Although cholera outbreak has not been confirmed in Jordan so far, education and awareness of this sanitation- and hygiene-related epidemic can always be very useful in emergency situations for both the Syrian refugees and Jordanian host communities. By rolling out the information acquired in the sessions, the students can serve as the messengers to their families and to the small communities.
In the last stage of this student session, all students went to the water fountain and practiced the right way of hand washing.
Also, messages for water saving practices were written on the walls near the water fountains.
Improving hygiene in the school environment cannot be accomplished by JEN’s effort alone. JEN strongly believes that it is essential to continue such activities and to motivate the headmasters, teachers, and students to do what they can do to make their own learning environment better.
[Socio-economic Disparity in Zaatari Camp]
United under the UN agencies’ umbrella and for the second winter season, organizations working in the Zaatari Camp have started to prepare a contingency plan to accommodate 20,000-30,000 new arrivals to the camp. In addition UNHCR has established a Strategy Advisory Working Group to discuss a long term strategy. JEN was chosen as one of the six major INGOs among over 30 humanitarian organizations working inside the camp.
The camp has been developing at a rapid speed. Now, it has various shops and even a factory with special equipment to produce drinking water. At the same time, economic and social gaps of people inside the camp are growing. Many people are living in pre-fabricated housings with electric equipment, and on the other hand, there are also a huge number of people strongly relying on support from aid agencies. It is important to include those vulnerable people (infants, women household families, elderly and disabled people) in JEN’s activities and make sure each and every person receive support from aid agencies.
[Rising Cost of Living Accompanied by the Syrian Crisis]
The price of daily necessities gradually but surely has gone up. Rent fee has also risen nearly 20 percent compared to that of 2 years ago. Some of the refugees from Syria have come to Jordan rent houses by themselves. In addition, the prices of gas and petrol have also slowly gone up since the beginning of this year. As gas stoves and central heating consuming heavy fuel oil are commonly used in Jordan, the increasing fuel cost is expected to make an impact on the livelihoods of Jordanians.
JEN has supported not only Syrian refugees but also public schools in the host communities that have been hosting people evacuating from Syria. We do so through rehabilitating school facilities and promoting hygiene education. JEN has continued to work in order to make changes to the actual situations of both Syrians and Jordanians, and to ensure their safety and comfortable lives in Jordan.
[Colleagues 3,000 Kilometers Away]
JEN activities are supported by various local staffs. Some staffs go to the field every day and communicate with people in needs directly, while some assist such project staffs so that they can carry on activities smoothly. Back-office section doesn’t draw much attention, but it plays a key role of project implementation. Donations are utilized not only for ones directly delivered to people but also for those costs which are required for supporting projects.
Recently, our admin staff had a skype meeting with a local staff in Juba office. Both of them are thoroughly versed in administrative issues, so international staffs didn’t attend the meeting, and it was held in Arabic. It is the first time for her to talk to South Sudanese as well as JEN staffs working in other office so it was motivational for her. It is expected that meetings like this will be continuously held and staffs in different offices being inspired by one another contribute to the further improvement of JEN activities.
[Winter Clothes Distribution to 9,000 Families]
Situated in the desert terrain, Zaatari refugee camp should face an extreme seasonal temperature. During the summer, it has faced a fierce heat up to 40 degree Celsius. While during the winter, the refugees will live in severe conditions where the rain is heavy and the temperatures are low.
Last winter of 2012, JEN provided assistance through distributions of winter clothes packages to more than 7,500 families in Zaatari Camp and the border areas. A similar activity will be implemented by JEN for upcoming winter season, 2013. JEN has extended the partnership with UNHCR for distributions of clothes donated by UNIQLO. JEN will start the clothes distribution to 9,000 families in October 2013.
[One Year On…]
Only few tents were there last year; however the current population of the camp reaches over hundred thousand people and the Zaatari camp became the fifth largest city in Jordan. JEN’s operation in the camp started from last September, 2012, right after the camp opened. JEN has worked together with UNICEF to establish WASH committee all over the camp to secure people’s presence in the WASH sector and develop their capacity.
Currently around 30 agencies are doing activities inside Zaatari camp. In response to rapid growth of the camp, UNHCR planned to divide the camp into 12 administrative districts and to assign one NGO as a lead agency of each district. JEN was appointed by UNHCR as a lead agency in areas where over 26,000 refugees live. JEN will continue to work in Zaatari camp in close cooperation with the Government of Jordan, UN agencies and other organisations working in the areas in order to ensure peaceful and comfortable living conditions for refugees in the camp.
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