Story from Rukum under Sustainable Livelihoods
Outbreaks of diarrhoea don't usually qualify as disasters, but they are a real threat to remote communities in districts like Rukum, in the middle hills area of Nepal. Although often caused by unsafe water, poor hygiene also plays a part. During a recent outbreak, UMN's Rukum Cluster team distributed 32,500 cakes of anti-bacterial soap, donated by World Vision. This simple response was accompanied by some important discussions with local people: about clean hands, and sustainable alternatives once the soap was used up.
The comments of two local women show that they have taken the lesson to heart, changed their behaviour, and plan to keep the changes in place. Dal Kumari said: "Earlier, our family used mud for hand-washing but now we are using this soap. I have taught my children to wash their hands before eating. This is a good habit. I heard that diarrhoea killed nearly 50 people in our district. This medicinal soap will protect us from disease. I am planning to buy more soap when this is finished."
Suntali was very happy about getting the soap. "I had never used soap before," she said. "I didn't clean my hands after going to the toilet or before eating. But from now onwards, we will use this. When it is finished, I will use ash."
(Note: ash is a good substitute for soap, and is readily available.)