196822 Colombia: Successful provision of water and sanitation services to internally displaced families

Wednesday, November 11, 2009: 10:30 AM

Nicolas Rodriguez , Habitat Program, Plan International, Bogota, Colombia
Raul Rodriguez , Habitat Program, Plan International, Bogota, Colombia
Luis Tam, MD DrPH , Plan USA, Arlington, VA
Internally displaced populations in Colombia usually settle down in marginal areas located in the outskirts of towns and cities, where they find sanitary and public utilities' problems. At the end of the year 2004, Plan International (a private, humanitarian international organization) implemented an integral programme to improve the living and sanitary conditions of these populations in one neighbourhood of the city of Quibdo, department of Choco.

Nearly half of the neighbourhood's 176 households housed internally displaced families. Of them, 100% supplied themselves with rainwater, 54% drank non-treated water, 60% left their excrements at the ring road of streams and 24% on open fields. The prevalence of acute diarrheic diseases in children of less than 5 years was high, i.e. 41.9%.

Plan International's program applied PAHO/WHO's concept of healthy housing and environment and with strong participation of children, families and communities during its design and its implementation. The program introduced the following technologies: dry ecological toilet (separating bowl, chamber pot and deposit tanks for excrements and urine); rainwater collection and storage (cover, pipe and tank); ceramic candle water filter; sink and counter for food preparation; cupboard protected with nets to avoid mosquito infestations and dustbin with lid; bathroom and wash house; grease and infiltration trapdoors; garbage collection and disposal.

The project started with the construction of reference units (pilot models) in 4 households in March 2006, where all the technologies described above were installed. The neighbourhood's remaining 172 households were intervened four months later. A dramatic impact on the reduction of acute diarrheic diseases was achieved in children of less than 5 years of age (from 41% to 11%).

Per family costs were affordable, especially by obtaining significant cost-sharing (in cash, in work and materials) from the participating families, community groups and local authorities.

Based on this success, Plan International is applying the lessons learned in this project in similar initiatives with internally displaced populations in Colombia.

Learning Objectives:
To demonstrate the success of an integrated approach to improve hygiene and sanitary conditions among internally displaced families living in slum areas of the Colombian cities.

Keywords: Water, Refugees

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I led the project described in this abstract
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.