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Djibouti: improving water and sanitation

Djibouti suffers very high levels of poverty – but the Red Cross is helping some of its poorest people look forward to a better future. Many face diseases and health problems, often caused by poor sanitation and a shortage of clean water. The east African country is constantly affected by droughts which leave people struggling for food and threatens their lives and livelihoods, and about 60 per cent of people are unemployed.

But in the Balbala slum on the outskirts of the capital, also called Djibouti, where most households have an income of less than £60 a month, the British Red Cross has been working with the Djibouti Red Crescent Society on projects that make a big difference to people’s lives.

Scrubbing up and splashing out

The organisations have created a fund to support community projects like the distribution of 20,000 bed nets to fight malaria. To boost sanitation and reduce disease, schools have been given new water tanks and improved latrines as well as hygiene kits including soap and liquid detergent. Teachers have also been given first aid kits for use in schools, as well as training to help them encourage more children to wash their hands.
The Red Cross has also helped 1,200 of the slum’s most vulnerable households access the clean water brought into the community by truck once a week. Residents including older people, orphans, people with disabilities and those living with HIV have been given basic equipment like water storage drums and jerry cans.

Investing in brighter futures

The British Red Cross has supported projects in Djibouti since May 2009, when it worked with the Djibouti Red Crescent Society to help improve the incomes of vulnerable people in Balbala. The programme, which ran until 2011, loaned cash to around 1,000 people in the slum for them to invest in money-generating activities – like widening the range of goods sold at their market stalls. Over 90 per cent of the cash was paid back, and this money was then used to launch the community fund that now supports a variety of other projects.

The British Red Cross is also committed to boosting the strength of the Djibouti Red Crescent Society, and is working with the organisation to update its strategic plans, increase its volunteer numbers and improve the services it runs.

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