In the past, sanitation was poor and illnesses such as diarrhoea were rife in Matongo, a semi-urban village in South Kivu. Defecation used to take place mostly in the bush, hand-washing with soap or ash wasn’t practised, the importance of hygiene in preparing food wasn’t understood, and discarded rubbish rotted in the roads.
Under the SWIFT programme, Tearfund with the support of Africa AHEAD set up a Community Health Club: a free, voluntary club which holds weekly discussions on health and hygiene topics. As a result, the village has been transformed. Awareness of the importance of good hygiene practices has improved dramatically.
Villagers have noticed an improvement not just in their environment, but in their health and their sense of community. The incidence of sicknesses has fallen, and villagers are enjoying a new community spirit.
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