Hygiene and Sanitation Initiatives in Ethiopia

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Ethiopia’s ambitious plan (<—really good article from The World Bank) to end exposure to communicable diseases caused by improper sanitation and hygiene practices in rural areas is something we care deeply about.

Lauren Werner, our Board Member and team photographer also holds an MD from Wake Forest University and an MPH (Master of Public Health) from University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is passionate about becoming part of the solution that improves sanitation and hygiene for Ethiopia’s children. 

“I am interested in promoting the clear connection between sanitation and education success. I personally believe sanitation is a better solution to school attendance than food programs, excluding food insecurity times like we have now. I also want to see the maintenance of the latrines become an IGA.” – Lauren Werner

Lauren contributed this valuable overview of what Roots Ethiopia is doing to improve hygiene and sanitation in Ethiopia:

  • Roots Ethiopia works school by school to address sanitation and hygiene needs where we work (nine schools).
  • Roots Ethiopia is partnering with local health educators to understand local health beliefs and behaviors. Change must come from within the communities themselves.
  • Diarrheal illnesses spread quickly in schools due to poor sanitation and hygiene practices. Adequate latrines, a source of clean water, and a well-placed hand washing station are the first steps in prevention of diarrheal illnesses.
  • Our goal is not to achieve ODF (open defecation free) areas, but to support safe and effective hygiene practices that will, in turn, prevent illness so that kids can attend school.
  • Latrine construction and maintenance must be done properly so that they function far into the future. This is one of our major long-term goals that is not always addressed in the World Bank Sponsored or government funded latrines, which are built, but if they fall into disrepair then they are no longer used.
  • Girls are missing school due to inadequate facilities, especially when they are menstruating. Gender-specific latrines can help address this issue so that girls can go to school throughout the month.

Lauren Werner is running the Twin Cities Marathon on October 4th, 2015 to raise money to support Roots Ethiopia’s latrine initiatives in Ethiopia. You can support her “Run For The Potty” fundraiser on Razoo by clicking here: https://www.razoo.com/story/Run-For-The-Potty



To learn more about our hygiene and sanitation plans in Ethiopia, please email us at info@rootsethiopia.org.

Let’s Build Latrines!



Top 10 Photography Skills for Travelers to Ethiopia

Contributed by Lauren Werner, our Board Member, photographer, and public health specialist.

Lauren’s Vision: To see the end of poverty in rural Ethiopia.

1. Ask permission to take a picture before you take it. This can be a verbal request or a simple non-verbal acknowledgement. “Photo, yichalal?” is the perfect way to ask.

2. Change up your subject matter. If you gravitate toward landscape, be bold and ask permission to take a portrait. If you prefer people pictures, turn to a house, animal, or sky for new inspiration.

3. Use your voice. Ask yourself what are you trying to say with the image you are making?

4. Selfie, and not selfie. You are “present” in every image, but you only need to be physically “in” a few to make your collection meaningful.

5. Watch the lighting. Early morning and late afternoon light have the least amount of glare and contrast on sunny days. Full sun too bright for your subject matter? Find a shade tree or shadow of a building to take the picture. Cloud cover is your friend.

6. Privacy: Sensitive subjects abound, and are highly visible at times, in Ethiopia. If you take a picture of someone in a vulnerable place, such as abject poverty or extreme illness, consider how that person would feel being portrayed that way to others.

7. Animals make great subjects, but they can move quickly, I have one too many close-ups of a cow nostril.

8. Combine posed images with spontaneous ones for a more realistic representation of Ethiopian life. Capture the movement in a whole marketplace along with individual sellers.

9. If you take a picture of a person, and want to show it to them on the spot, know that it can start a beautiful moment of sharing that can turn overwhelming in an instant. Have a plan to move on if this happens, with a smile and a wave.

10.Share wisely. Facebook is a great way to connect your photos to the world. Share what is appropriate. Facebook owns everything you post. Need a private way to share? Consider Flickr. They don’t own your images, and you can choose how you share them.

NOTE: Lauren’s amazing work can be seen on our social media sites and occasionally during special fundraising events, such as Story of Hope, and Light from the Horn of Africa. Contact us if you’d like us to bring a photography show to your community! info@rootsethiopia.org

Roots Ethiopia is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization working in Africa, specifically helping Southern Ethiopia. Roots Ethiopia supports community identified solutions for job creation and education.

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