Diarrhoeal diseases account for as much as 40% of serious pediatric health problems that amount to a staggering 300 million cases in the country every year. The close association between the occurrence of diarrhea, malnutrition, lack of safe drinking water and proper sanitation facilities is well known. Unfortunately all efforts to address this issue consider diarrhea as medical problem. An integrated approach incorporating all dimensions is a felt need in the country.
The role of AFPRO in North-East India has evolved over the past two decades of its involvement from a predominantly welfare-oriented approach to one based on integrated development needs for the village communities. As part of this integrated approach, we are now working as UNICEF extenders in the North-East region to facilitate integrated projects in water, sanitation and nutrition in West Imphal and South Tripura districts. The Governments of Manipur and Tripura have taken up integrated water and school sanitation programmes with funding support from UNICEF and technical support by AFPRO. The aim of the project is to develop an operational model to reduce the diarrheal cases by 25 per cent before December 2002, and facilitate the community based capacity building programmes towards achieving convergent services.
The overall objectives of the programme are to provide access to safe drinking water, to reduce incidence of diarrheal diseases and to enhance the nutritional status of children and pregnant women. AFPRO as a resource support agency will co-ordinate help from officials of the respective State governments and local NGOs to implement the programme in the four Rural Development blocks selected for the programme. The initial phase of two years (2000-2002) is planned as a pilot phase. AFPRO will also be involved in planning and monitoring of all the activities in the programme. Some of the main activities include co-ordination of baseline studies, conducting orientation workshops and trainers training programmes providing technical assistance in installation and maintenance of hand pumps and training of masons for constructing low cost toilets.
The integrated WATSAN and nutrition project and school sanitation project is underway in Amarpur and Bagafa blocks of South Tripura districts, Tripura and CD blocks I and II of West Imphal district, Manipur.