Health and Nutrition
by Vilayphonh Khamphilanouvong, Batoume/Mangotideke, Togo
As a Peace Corps health Volunteer, I see that there is a need to help the villagers out. One big result of not having potable water is the many cases of Guinea worm disease in our region. The Guinea worm is identified by the long, string-like worm that emerges through a blister on the human body. Its life cycle begins when a larva recently released into a water source by a mature female worm is eaten by a cyclops or water flea. Humans are infected by drinking water containing the infected cyclops. Approximately one year after the initial infection, the worm has migrated to beneath the skin and is ready to emerge and release its larvae. Infected individuals are often disabled for up to three months by the painful ulcers produced by worm's emergence and the complications resulting from secondary infections. The disease is preventable simply by filtering the water that is fetched from ponds and small waterbeds.
The people are aware of the importance of using water filters when fetching water from the ponds and barrages. Although the number of cases of Guinea worm disease has decreased, there are still a few cases that arise from time to time. The most recent case is a woman in Sarakope, Togo (five kilometers from my village), who was infected from fetching water from a barrage on the Ghana side of the village. The best and most sustainable solution to the Guinea worm disease is a permanent clean source of drinking water.
by Nathan McFall, Soumdina Haut, Togo
The villagers do not bathe or wash clothes in the river. They wash clothes a good distance away from the wells, and cover and clean the wells. Other than that, however, there is not a lot of effort to keep the water clean.