Water and Sanitation: a community-based health approach in Timor-Leste

n Timor-Leste, only 36 per of rural households have access to basic levels of sanitation. Nearly a third of the population have no choice but to collect dirty water from unsafe sources. Poor hygiene practices remain widespread and diarrhoea is prevalent among children. In 2011, the Timor-Leste Red Cross Society decided to implement a community-based health and first aid (CBHFA) approach to providing healthcare in Bitirai. Within the community of around 500 people, 30 of them have chosen to become Red Cross volunteers, mobilising and empowering their community to undertake beneficial changes to their health.

Timor-Leste Red Cross Society is the largest contributor of safe water supplies, sanitation and hygiene education in the most remote communities across the country. Since 2002, it has provided almost 50,000 people with access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene promotion initiatives.

The programme in Bitirai is just one part of wider efforts by the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement to address the imbalance between action on sanitation and water. Both water and sanitation are crucial to promote community health, resilience, and human dignity. Learn more at www.ifr.org/watsan

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