Nearly one in four adults in Lesotho has HIV, the world’s second-highest prevalence rate.
In rural areas, where most people live, more than one in five people still drink and wash with dirty water. And 70 per cent of people don’t have access to adequate sanitation such as a household toilet.
This all leads to poor health. Diarrhoea, typhoid and intestinal worms – which can all be caused by unsafe water – are among Lesotho’s most common diseases.
For people living with HIV, health problems can make it harder to travel to health centres for treatment. For everyone, repeated illness can interfere with earning a living or going to school.
How we’re helping in Lesotho
The British Red Cross is now working with the Lesotho Red Cross to help change this in two districts.
One is particularly remote and mountainous, with difficult terrain that has made it hard to build safe water supplies. The other has more people, many of whom don’t yet have access to safe water and toilets.
In both areas, women sometimes have to walk for two hours each way to fetch water. Girls who do this may have to miss school.
Working through schools and community committees, we are helping to build and repair vital water supplies in 35 villages and schools. We also build latrines for families, who help by digging the pits and providing local materials such as stones.
To help community committees have a lasting impact, we:
- train people to manage and maintain their local water supply
- supply the equipment they need to keep the water flowing
- raise awareness of how to avoid diseases spread by dirty water
- teach people how to stay healthy through hand washing, using toilets and other easy ways to keep clean.
Water and toilets for those most in need
In Lesotho, disabled people and those living with HIV are less likely to have clean water and toilet facilities. Families headed by children, those with orphans or other young people and those who have elderly members are also at risk.
To help, the project prioritises the most vulnerable people in these groups and others whose voices are not often heard. This includes giving building materials and construct toilets to 1,500 households and helping them use simple, local materials to store water for washing hands.
We will also run hygiene training sessions with young men and boys who look after animals high in the mountains. Since they don’t live near the new village clean water points and toilets, we helped them learn to protect clean water sources from animal contamination and to stay healthy.