The public health program was launched in 2012 after two years’ of needs assessment with the guidance of local leadership. ACF believes that with good health care and knowledge people can focus on important issues like higher education, income generation, and community well being. Expanding on the existing processes and resources, ACF’s goal is to provide public health education and resources that achieve long-term health for the region of Zawiya Ahansal.
The main goals of the program are the following.
- Increase utilization of the Zawiya Ahansal clinic and Azilal hospital by locals.
- Provide education on environmental health, safe water, sanitation and hygiene.
- Provide education on improving nutrition, especially for women and children, and proper food storage strategies.
- Provide general health education for the community.
- Identify key community health promoters and facilitate leadership to ensure program sustainability.
The public health initiative has the following programs and projects.
HEALTH AWARENESS DAYS
The Awareness Days are an annual series of community education programs that promote the importance of clean water, sanitation, hygiene, nutrition and specific health conditions or diseases. The program is led by ACF board members in partnership with the local government and association leaders and Montana State University students. The Days are open to the public.
The Days incorporate a variety of activities including: roundtable discussions (community leaders and government officials, elementary school students, female and male heads of households); presentations at the elementary school and tutoring program; community educational workshops, field trips and excursions, and current agricultural methods, tools and techniques.
LAUNDRY WASH STATIONS
In partnership with Montana State University School of Architecture ACF built a series of laundry wash stations along the Ahansal River valley. The goals of the Laundry Wash Station Project are the following.
- Decrease the quantity of laundry being washed in the Ahansal River.
- Restore fish habit and river health.
- Provide women with a healthy and comfortable location to wash laundry that preserves the social interaction.
Women in Zawiya Ahansal suffer from back pain from washing laundry in the river; the wash stations provide a comfortable place to wash without the physical stress on their bodies. Existing irrigation ditches provides the water for the wash stations. The dirty water is diverted into a bio swale consisting of sand and gravel and a field of reeds. The reeds absorb the soaps and clean the water before it reenters the springs and river. The projects use only traditional architectural materials and styles. The projects are funded, designed and built by MSU Foundation and MSU School of Architecture and professor Christopher Livingston, students, and local craftsmen.
ACF launched the food and nutrition program in the summer of 2014. The program focuses on the long-term health and sustainability of the region’s food system; including water and soil quality, farming techniques, food harvesting, food storage, and nutrition. A key component of the program is two community gardens in which local community gardeners work with ACF to test higher yield and higher nutrition crops.The community gardens are a testing ground for growing fruits and vegetables without any pesticides, chemicals or man-made fertilizers. ACF is also experimenting with winter vegetable crops that can add nutrition to winter diet. ACF is distributing the new knowledge and techniques from the gardens to local families and gardeners through a series of agriculture workshops.
COMMUNITY REFUSE PROGRAM
In 2013, ACF collaborated with local community leaders and craftsmen to design and build a community refuse oven. This project is providing the first ever garbage disposal system for the region and its 15,000 inhabitants. Since completion, the local association and local government have adopted the program. ACF will continue oversight of the Community Refuse Program.