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SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT

In many countries, including Myanmar, municipal solid waste management (SWM) is still not prioritised outside of large cities, leaving many households to deal with solid waste on their own. Sophisticated SWM, especially disposal, is often too expensive for humanitarian programmes, leading to imperfect and unsustainable solutions, which becomes particularly problematic in prolonged emergencies. However, SWM plays a key role in WASH programming to reduce public health risks and keep the environment clean. WASH agencies collect, transport, and dispose of solid waste while drawing the link between SWM and disease reduction in hygiene promotion sessions and engaging communities to help keep their surroundings clean. 

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Solar

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SOLAR LIGHTING

Inadequate lighting around WASH facilities reduces their usage at night, especially by women and children, primarily due to fear of violence and abuse. Poor lighting also makes it more difficult for the elderly and people with disabilities to access WASH facilities at night. In a camp setting, WASH agencies take responsibility for providing lighting around WASH facilities, while other agencies typically provide lighting for other public areas. Vandalism, theft, and poor technical expertise and workmanship have hindered previous solar street light projects in Rakhine. Although former WASH agencies installed solar lighting around latrines in the Sittwe restricted area, all of the systems were in disrepair or fully non–functional at the time that OXSI took over as the WASH agency. When planning new solar installations, OXSI took a step back to evaluate how to install better designs and work with communities to reduce theft.

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Hygiene Promotion and Community Engagement

Positive hygiene behaviours are just as important, if not more important, than clean water and safe sanitation facilities in preventing the spread of disease, especially in dense camp settings. Hygiene promotion is a major component of humanitarian WASH programming, with the ultimate goal of changing hygiene behaviours, primarily through education and with the provision of non–food items (NFIs) needed to practice healthy hygiene behaviours.

Engaging communities in designing WASH programming leads to greater positive behaviour uptake and helps agencies understand real priorities.

Community engagement is critical for behaviour change and for building resilience, as well as for designing and implementing effective programming overall. The OXSI WASH programme mainstreamed community engagement throughout its activities, which required first and foremost an attitude shift for OXSI staff. Although the team modified many activities to increase participation, decision–making, and leadership of communities, it proved even more effective to facilitate this attitude shift through the creation of new activities.

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Sanitation

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SANITATION

Containment, collection, transport, treatment, and disposal of human excreta is a top WASH priority, as an environment free of human waste is essential for people’s dignity, safety, health, and well–being. All people should have access to appropriate, safe, clean, and reliable toilets. Containment of human excreta in a toilet/latrine creates an initial barrier to excreta–related disease by reducing direct and indirect routes of disease transmission. Containment should then be integrated with collection, transport, treatment, and safe disposal to fully address public health risks and minimise environmental impact. This chapter covers all of these steps as implemented in the OXSI WASH programme. Although the focus is usually on excreta management, sanitation also encompasses controlling vectors of disease through solid waste management and surface water drainage. 

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Water

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WATER

During a crisis, inadequate water quantity and quality is the underlying cause of most public health problems. Water can easily become contaminated at different points as users collect, transport, store, and use it. Therefore, WASH agencies should work with communities to manage the entire water chain: water sourcing, treatment, distribution, collection, household storage, and consumption.

As part of the humanitarian WASH programme in the Sittwe restricted area, Oxfam and Solidarites International (OXSI) are responsible for construction and major repairs of boreholes and handpumps, monitoring of the systems, training communities to conduct minor repairs, water quality testing and follow–up, and raising awareness to reduce contamination risk during storage, transport, collection, and use.

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Monitoring

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Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability, and learning

Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability, and Learning(MEAL) aims to comprehend and demonstrate the impact of humanitarian intervention, supports timely and evidence based decision making, and allows humanitarian programmes to adjust to changing contexts. Humanitarian programmes need independent MEAL staff and processes in place to measure progress on programme indicators, present results to programme staff as well as to communities, and have flexibility to adapt policies and practices in response to feedback. 

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Emergency

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Emergency Response: COVID–19

The COVID–19 global pandemic dramatically changed lives, economies, and ways of working in 2020. The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the COVID–19 outbreak a global pandemic on March 11th and called upon governments around the world to scale up their response to contain the pandemic. As many cities and entire countries went into lockdown, the most vulnerable, including those living in densely populated camps, did not have the option to isolate or to work remotely. In addition to existing risks and threats, forcibly displaced and stateless populations faced a heightened risk of COVID–19 due to more densely populated conditions, lack of access to adequate health care, and restricted delivery of critical services.

Myanmar announced the first case of COVID–19 in the country on March 23 and shortly thereafter, the Government of Myanmar started to enforce regulations and a partial lock down to prevent the potential spread of the virus. The COVID–19 pandemic presented a new challenge for many humanitarian organisations and required fast adaptation of activities and ways of working to prevent transmission while continuing life–saving activities. In Sittwe camps, COVID–19 introduced additional challenges as the authorities used the pandemic as an excuse to further violate the rights of Rohingya and Kaman communities.

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