After a long hiatus from updating our blog, we have returned from our December break and plan to write more about our adventures soon. In the meantime, this post is aimed at raising awareness of an awesome public health project one of our fellow volunteers and good friends in Peace Corps Botswana (he's a mid-westerner from MO) is working on.
The project details can be found below and if you have any interest in donating to a Peace Corps project and helping to remedy this public health emergency, you can click here to visit the official website setup to collect donations.
There is an outbreak of cholera and diarrhea related deaths in my village in Botswana. These avoidable deaths are almost exclusively isolated to one ward (neighborhood). A community health assesment found that 3,000 people are sharing two water sources and three pit latrines (outhouses). The team found that the ward deposits two tons of human excrement, uncontained in the community every week.
The most common problem linked to this type of open defecation is diarrhea. Diarrhea is the biggest child killer in Africa; it kills more than HIV, Malaria, and Measles combined. 1.8 million children die annually from diarrhea that could have been prevented simply by having a clean place to go to the bathroom.
Disposing of excreta safely, isolating excreta from flies and other insects, and preventing fecal contamination of water supplies, would greatly reduce the spread of communicable diseases for my whole village. A 2010 study completed in Puru found that once pit latrines were placed in family compounds, diarrhea rates and deaths were reduced by half.
The District AIDS Office wants to build a pit latrine for every family in the ward. The families have signed a contract saying that they want the latrines and they will dig the pits themselves. Before the District AIDS Office can address the problems of HIV/AIDS, alcohol abuse, teenage pregnancy, and communicable diseases in the ward, we have to address the basic human needs in the community.