With the Power of Water, ADRA Transforms Communities in Zimbabwe

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SILVER SPRING, Md. - In Zimbabwe, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is transforming communities through improving levels of hygiene and health through water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) initiatives. Through interactive training and increasing availability of water sources, ADRA is improving the condition of life for scores of Zimbabweans.

The local ADRA Zimbabwe office has a two-fold approach to their WASH projects; one focusing on hygienic behavior change, and the other focusing on bringing safe, drinkable water into communities.

"We have two components in our WASH portfolio; a software component and a hardware component," shared ADRA Zimbabwe Country Director Zivai Nengomasha. "The software component uses training to bring forth hygiene behavior change through establishing health clubs within communities and schools."

ADRA Zimbabwe has worked with local schools to incorporate a six-month curriculum on hygiene education. Once taught, students are then given the opportunity to share what they learned with their pupils, and families, through fun and interactive methods.

"The school health clubs are lots of fun for the children because they take what they have learned about health and hygiene, and translate it into poetry, drama performances, and music. What we have done is created competitions between health clubs at different schools where schools contend with each other for the chance to reach the finals," Nengomasha added.

Through establishing community health clubs, ADRA is teaching practices on hand washing, the importance of disposing refuse properly, and the need to bury fecal matter in areas where pit latrines are not available. Once a week club members are taught a concept and are expected to practice it until they meet the following week. Upon returning to the training, members record their progress on fulfilling what they learned before having their peers assess their follow-through.

"Groups want each other to do well because they have group pride to maintain. When we did the first phase of training, which ended in March 2011, we noticed a behavioral change success rate of over 90 percent. People were literally adopting the practices they were being taught, and we saw that through the drastic change of cleanliness of their homes," said Nengomasha.

Recognizing that success in hygiene behavior change is linked to the availability of resources, ADRA is drilling boreholes to complement the Agency's training efforts. With an ADRA-owned drilling rig, ADRA Zimbabwe is drilling boreholes in schools and communities bringing life-changing water to thousands.

"The drilling is very relevant because it means people do not have to walk long distances to access safe water. Before, while at school, children would worry about fetching water for their families. Now that it is available at their school, they no longer leave classes."

Another dimension to drilling boreholes is that it propels additional initiatives. In some schools where ADRA has drilled, new classes are being offered such as agriculture. With the new supply of water, small-scale gardens can be sustained. This is just one of the added advantages that water brings.

In Waterfalls, a southern suburb of Zimbabwe's capital Harare, the Newstart children's home was without a reliable source of water, and almost entirely depended upon water from boreholes. This orphanage is home to nearly 70 children, some of whom are HIV positive. Prior to ADRA's arrival to their neighborhood, the orphanage fetched water from a poor yielding borehole. Upon completing drilling, ADRA was able to provide Newstart children's home with a high-yielding borehole giving 20 liters of water every two minutes.

"When drilling for boreholes, you really just have to pray and hope that you get water," explained Nengomasha. "Now they have plenty of water for washing and cooking, and they can finally use their land to grow vegetables to eat. It is a miracle for that orphanage."

Funding has been provided to drill 30 boreholes and currently ADRA Zimbabwe is close to half way done. The purchase of the rig, collateral equipment, and the first 30 boreholes has been funded by the ADRA Africa Regional Office, ADRA Australia, ADRA Canada, ADRA Denmark, ADRA International, ADRA Norway, and the Seventh-day Adventist Zimbabwe Union Conference.

To contribute to ADRA's humanitarian efforts, please contact ADRA at 1.800.424.ADRA (2372) or give online at www.adra.org

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ADRA is a global non-governmental organization providing sustainable community development and disaster relief without regard to political or religious association, age, gender, race or ethnicity.

For more information about ADRA, visit www.adra.org

Author: Christina Zaiback, ADRA International