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Afghanistan: Over 2,000 latrines completed in Herat

24-10-2003 News Release 03/133

This week the ICRC and the Australian Red Cross finished building over 2,000 latrines in three of the poorest districts of the provincial capital of Herat, in northwestern Afghanistan. In a further effort to reduce the risk of disease in the city, teams already on the spot are also working with families to improve hygiene.

" Before, many kids suffered from diarrhoea, but this is no longer the case, " said Abdul Azim, a father of five who lives in the Mal-e-Now district of southern Herat. " It is important for the children to be reminded that they have to wash their hands before eating and after they have been to the toilet, " he added. " It is also useful to know that diarrhoea can be treated with a mixture of water, flour and salt. "

The teams, who go from door to door, show the female members of the households, and often the children as well, how to avoid and treat common diseases. Abdul Azim's wife has passed on her newly acquired knowledge to her husband and children. They share a house with two other families of relatives – in all, 12 adults and eight children live together. This is not unusual in the district.

" We selected the poorest parts of the city, where people had either dilapidated latrines or none at all, " explained project manager Margaret Walker of the Australian Red Cross. " The messages we pass on are very basic: keep the wells covered, wash your hands and boil the water. "

The ICRC, which plans to pursue its hygiene promotion activities for another year, has built or repaired more than 60,000 latrines in Afghanistan since 1996.

 For further information, please contact:  

 Helge Kvam, ICRC Kabul, tel. ++93 70 27 64 65