Staying Safe by Staying Clean

Sunday 24 May 2015


Nizar, a father of two children is from Mosul. Nizar and his family were forced to leave their home in Mosul due to the ongoing violence and deteriorating security situation, and find safety elsewhere. The family fled to Dohuk governorate in the Kurdish Region of Iraq where they resided in Shariya camp for internally displaced people (IDP) in late 2014.

Given that the camp opened in November 2014, Nizar and his family were one of the first families to find shelter in Shariya and have witnessed many developments in the camp, like Save the Children’s intervention with water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services.

“Everyone was facing challenges with water facilities. There were not enough water points and therefore it was always too crowded around them, so I often sent my son to pick up the water because it was very time consuming,” shared Nizar.

Many families often sent their children to walk across the camp to the nearest water point and carry the heavy buckets back to their tents. This sometimes resulted in children missing school or other activities as they contributed to running the family’s errands around the camp. Sanitation and hygiene support is also essential in displacement and refugee camps, to prevent the spread of diseases, due to overcrowding and inadequate waste disposal.

 hortly after it opened, Save the Children introduced its WASH programme to Shariya camp, by installing 42 water points, conducting hygiene awareness sessions to children and families and installing latrines for people with disabilities. In Shariya camp, Save the Children also distributes 9000 garbage bags every week along with cleaning material and detergents.

“We weren’t very aware of the importance of hygiene, especially after moving into the camp it was difficult to keep up with hygienic practices,” said Nizar, “it was only through the hygiene sessions we received from Save the Children that we came to understand the great risks involved if we didn’t wash our hands before meals and other measures.”

The awareness sessions targeted families and their children, teaching them about common diseases, how they are spread and practices to adopt in order to avoid them. The sessions were interactive and engaged the children.

“I learned how to use the toilets in the camp, and to wash my hands every time I come home,” said Yousef, one of the children who attended the hygiene sessions conducted by Save the Children.

Nizar further shared, “My family is very happy with the WASH services, because they help keep us and my children healthy and disease-free.”