Tetra Tech

{Photo credit: MSH staff, Afghanistan}Photo credit: MSH staff, Afghanistan

In 2013 diarrhea killed 578,000 children under the age of five, 9 percent of all deaths in this age group globally. The tragedy of these deaths is that they are avoidable at many levels. The risk of contracting diarrhea can be drastically decreased through basic hygiene measures, such as consistent and exclusive use of a latrine and washing one’s hands with soap. Once a child becomes ill with diarrhea, most cases can be managed with oral rehydration salts and zinc. But the gap between what is known in the public health community regarding prevention and treatment of diarrhea, and what is practiced in many settings, is wide and deadly.

In Afghanistan, diarrhea killed 13,000 children under the age of five in 2013 and was the third most frequent cause of mortality (after neonatal conditions and pneumonia) in the age group. Many organizations, including Management Sciences for Health (MSH), have worked to improve access to treatment for children with diarrhea, but less attention has been paid to prevention.

In Moen Kas, one of the villages where the project introduced community-led total sanitation, officials and villagers celebrate Open Defecation Free (ODF) certification. {Photo credit: Noorgha CLTS Supervisor/Afghanistan.}Photo credit: Noorgha CLTS Supervisor/Afghanistan.

A new report from the USAID-funded Afghan Sustainable Water Supply and Sanitation (SWSS) Project, led by Tetra Tech ARD, describes the methodology and results from the Sustainable Health Outcomes component, led by Management Sciences for Health (MSH). The SWSS project worked to improve the health and infrastructure of rural Afghans, with an emphasis on providing water supply and sanitation facilities and improving community hygiene behaviors (read stories).

SWSS was the first project in Afghanistan to implement community-led total sanitation (CLTS) on a broad scale. While challenges for ongoing hygiene and sanitation remain, the project’s success led the Afghan Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development to include CLTS as part of its national water and sanitation policy and strategy.

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