The Qatar Red Crescent Society (QRCS) mission in Lebanon has launched a community-based project to enhance the sanitation services at four Syrian refugee camps in Joub Jannine, the capital of West Beqaa.
The project is supported by Elrha's Humanitarian Innovation Fund (HIF) programme, a grant-making facility supporting organisations and individuals to identify, nurture and share innovative and scalable solutions to the most pressing challenges facing effective humanitarian assistance. The HIF is funded by aid from the UK Government's Department for International Development.
According to feedback from the end users, improvements were made to the camp toilets in terms of supplies, cleaning, maintenance and design. A total of 850 Syrian refugees gave their own insights about how to make the sanitary units more innovative and convenient.
Upon data collection and analysis, an innovative methodology derived from ethnographic research was developed and tested by Intizar Omari, the project's co-ordinator, in co-operation with Dr Laurent Lambert, senior policy analyst at the Social and Economic Survey Research Institute.
QRCS team members and beneficiaries examining the 'smart bucket'
The first phase of the project involved providing lighting inside and around toilets to ensure accessibility at night, installing water tanks for cleanliness, encouraging children to wash their hands after using toilets, providing detergents and creating a water-saving 'smart bucket'.
Omari said, "Engaging users was fruitful. They reacted well and suggested realistic solutions. The point is to make their toilets readily usable.”
Alaa Elwan, hygiene awareness co-ordinator under the project, noted: "It is not just a matter of gathering and analyzing information. Our aim is to build trust between us as a team and the men and women of the refugee community.
"The personal hygiene awareness sessions were welcomed by the beneficiaries as they started to perceive themselves as part of the solution, not the problem per se. Driven by a sense of responsibility for maintaining the accomplishments, they offered us every form of help."
Rand Farahat, the project's water and sanitation engineer, emphasised that "listening to the beneficiaries was key to introducing technical solutions that address their needs and minimise the difficulties of everyday use of toilets. This was possible only when we gained their trust".
Farahat commended the sustainable solutions offered by the first phase of the project as well as its positive impression. "The refugees have become the main decision-makers as regards both identifying the needs of their own community and proposing constructive solutions," she added.
Expressing her gratitude for QRCS’s support for Syrian refugees, Maryam Omar, a beneficiary, said she is now able to help her old parents to go to the toilet more easily.
The second phase of the project is planned to start within days, while the last phase is scheduled for next month.
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