Mohamed Essam, a volunteer in the Cleaning and Awareness Campaign under the Emergency Solid Waste Management Project, believes that raising public awareness about the massive health risks of poor hygiene is the surest way to keep people safe from disease in the port city of Hodeidah.
The project, supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and implemented by the Sustainable Development Foundation (SDF) in Hodeidah city’s three districts, Mina, Alhali and al-Hawak, provides immediate cash assistance to beneficiaries in the three districts by engaging them in cash-for-work on solid waste management.
The Emergency Solid Waste Management Project makes use of the cash-for-work (CfW) approach to catalyze community engagement in the collection of solid municipal waste, targeted 25,828 households with health prevention messages covering cholera and other public health epidemics that have a direct co-relation with the mounting garbage accumulation crisis in Hodeidah.
The CfW modality helps build ownership and brings sustainability to the waste management efforts in this northern port city of half a million residents. The awareness building campaign seeks to encourage local citizens to reduce the production of waste by communities while enhancing the capacities of the local institutions to appropriately dispose of the waste.
“I went out to sensitize people about the importance of cleaning our neighborhoods. Keeping our society safe from disease, epidemics and malnutrition is the duty of every citizen,” Essam says. “We must continue to educate citizens through campaigns like this and by providing them with quality information they can use.”
Tahani Nabat, a 31-year-old Adjunct Professor in Hodeidah University, had not been receiving her salary for three years. Despite her difficult financial situation, she participated in the project to make a small difference in her community. "I could not bear to look at the mounting garbage everywhere and the lack of cleanliness. This campaign was a chance for me to contribute along with the community in cleaning up a small part of the city,” she says.
Nabat says she has seen some immediate impact of her volunteerism in the community. “When going door-to-door to educate people, we found many families were unaware of cholera and its symptoms. We were able to explain the disease to them and the dangers associated with neglecting personal and public hygiene. Thanks to the campaign they are better informed of the risks of mounting garbage and how to care for themselves and their families,” she says.
High rates of illiteracy pose a major stumbling block for the awareness raising campaign. "The lack of education, difficult living conditions and the lack of food were a part of the difficulties we encountered," Hassan Hassan said, a resident of one of the neighborhoods.
Yasser Alattafi, a field officer who helped roll out the Hodeidah initiative, feels the project made a significant impact by focusing on CfW to better enable income generation in some of the poorest neighborhoods.
The project has been implemented into two phases, the first one was from April -June 2019 and has achieved the following:
During the first phase from April to June 2019, the project supported the District Cleaning Fund (DCF), a local service delivery organization to remove 15,500 tons of waste. During this phase, a total of USD for 21 days of wage employment. Over 2700 Community Volunteers participated in the waste disposal and awareness-raising activities.
The second phase, from July-December 2019 resulted in emergency employment provision for over 2100 direct beneficiaries who received YER 3270 (approximately USD $6.50) per day for 15-48 days of work depending on rotations.
In addition to extending cash assistance to beneficiaries, the Emergency Solid Waste Management Project supported the maintenance and fueling of garbage-clearance trucks. The project also supported the painting of nearly 15 kilometres of public parks and some of the main streets in Hodeidah.
“The money that I received helped me purchase medicines for one of my close family members who is suffering from cancer. This support was critical and life-saving for me,” said Sammar Alaamri, a volunteer in the initiative. “It is the first time that I participated in an initiative like this to raise community awareness about cholera and the importance of cleaning up our neighborhoods. We need more initiatives like this to raise community awareness and for creating locally-driven mechanisms to deal with solid waste and improve public hygiene” he noted.
There is a significant unmet demand for solid-waste disposal in Hodeidah as barely 19 per cent of 350 tons per day of waste gets removed at the current reckoning. As the risks of cholera, dengue and similar epidemics looms large, the innovative solid waste management project is showing the way to keeping citizens safe and the city clean.
UNDP works with national and international partners to build resilience to crises by addressing the humanitarian and development aspects of the crisis at the same time, through sustainable responses.