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Raising awareness of good hygiene and stopping the spread of cholera

Child placing paper on floor outlining the challenges the village face and how they can overcome them

Children have been making posters to raise awareness of the need for better hygiene

9 May 2012: Poor hygiene and lack of sanitation are one of the biggest challenges for communities in Cameroon, leading to outbreaks of life-threatening diseases such as cholera.

In the North West region of Cameroon, the council of Bafut is made up of 6 main villages. Last year, these communities suffered a severe outbreak of cholera affecting over 200 people and resulting in 8 deaths.

As part of the ‘one household, one latrine’ initiative, Plan - in collaboration with the Centre for Low Cost Water Supply and Sanitation (CREPA) - have begun a campaign to highlight the need to practise good hygiene and safe sanitation.

By using door to door awareness raising methods, the project is raising awareness of the importance of clean water and hand washing when it comes to preventing disease.  So far 48 new latrines have been built in Bafut, increasing the number of households with a toilet to 71% and reducing open defecation in the area by 65%, thereby limiting the risk of water-borne diseases like cholera from spreading.

Setting up hygiene committees

To ensure that such improvements continue, an action plan has been put in place by the communities including monthly cleanup days where people come together to clean their villages.  A campaign to put toilets in the market and in schools is also underway.

According to Mforbang Cornelius, President of the local Hygiene and Sanitation Committee: “The villagers agreed to put an end to open defecation. We have now instituted monthly hand washing and water purification awareness days and we are also lobbying with the council for the provision of more latrines, clean drinkable water sources and the need to take action against perpetrators of open defecation’’.

Read more about Plan's work in Cameroon