To Prevent Cholera in Zimbabwe, International Medical Corps Awarded USAID Grant to Implement Critical Water/Sanitation/Hygiene Programs

Margaret Aguirre

Director, Global Communications



Los Angeles, CA - September 27, 2010 - Through a United States Agency for International Development (USAID) grant, made possible with the generous support of the American people, International Medical Corps will increase water/sanitation/hygiene (WASH) programs in communities and schools in Zimbabwe. The project - benefitting 200,000 people including 75,000 schoolchildren - will draw on International Medical Corps' existing relationships and experience working to prevent cholera in the country, as well as its global technical capacity and lessons learned.

With support from USAID's Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), International Medical Corps has been implementing WASH and emergency cholera preparedness and response programs in Mashonaland Central province since September 2009. Activities have included increasing access to safe water and sanitation in rural health clinics, training Village Health Workers (VHWs) to improve cholera prevention awareness at the community level and the construction of 500 latrines for vulnerable households.

International Medical Corps' Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices (KAP) baseline survey report, conducted in October 2009, and WASH assessment conducted in October/November 2009*, revealed that much still needs to be done to increase access to sanitation and safe water sources. Although over half of the respondents reported that they had some toilet facility in the home, in some districts, sanitation coverage was as low as 46%. In schools, although 50% have access to functioning "Blair" latrines, almost none of them are equipped with hand-washing stations. Through continued funding from OFDA, International Medical Corps will scale-up its WASH interventions to encompass schools and a greater number of households and VHWs. The organization will continue to construct latrines and hand-washing facilities and rehabilitate boreholes. The organization will also train pump minders, water point committees and VHWs to ensure greater access to safe water and sanitation and increased hygiene awareness at the community level.

From evidence gathered by ISL (Integrated Sustainable Livelihoods), a local NGO, it has been reported that 70% of girls in Mashonaland Central and Mashonaland West do not attend school when they are menstruating due to lack of affordable sanitary pads. International Medical Corps will pilot the use of reusable sanitary pads developed by ISL and UNIFEM at 75 schools in conjunction with hygiene promotion activities. International Medical Corps will conduct an opinion survey and review attendance records to assess whether the reusable sanitary pads are an effective solution to the problem.

Since its inception more than 25 years ago, International Medical Corps' mission has been consistent: relieve the suffering of those impacted by war, natural disaster, and disease, by delivering vital health care services that focus on training. This approach of helping people help themselves is critical to returning devastated populations to self-reliance. For more information visit: www.InternationalMedicalCorps.org.