IOM and Fekat Circus together, to celebrate the World Water Day in West Guji and Gedeo zones

IOM Ethiopia’s operations in West Guji and Gedeo zones started in June 2018, to respond to the displacement of the population as a result of local conflict. Since then, IOM is providing humanitarian assistance with life-saving interventions for IDPs in collective sites and within host communities, as well as for returnees in Gedeo and West Guji Zones. IOM closely cooperates with local authorities and other stakeholders to ensure appropriate and timely interventions for populations in need.

IOM has a dedicated hygiene promotion team on the ground, whose activities vary from awareness-raising, soap and hygiene kits distribution, training of community hygiene volunteers and local authorities, mass events organization and protection / gender-based violence (GBV) awareness mainstreaming.

During March 2019, IOM carried out a series of community events in celebration of the UN World Water Day, the annual UN observance day (March 22) which highlights that availability and access to safe drinking water is a human right and, as such, should be granted to every person in the world. The theme chosen for 2019 is “leaving no one behind” http://www.worldwaterday.org/.

IOM engaged Fekat Circus (https://fekatcircus.com/) to conduct a series of events in some of the sites where IOM is active with its WASH program: the activities took place over 6 days, starting from March 22nd. The show took place in Dilla – Kera site (22nd March 2019), Yirgachefe – Bedessa site (23rd March), Yirgachefe – Chirriku site (24th March), Gedeb – Gotiti site (25th March), Bule Hora – Hera Liptu site (26th March) and Kercha Town (27th March). The script produced by IOM and Fekat team aimed to highlight the importance of proper hand washing at key moments and proper use and maintenance of latrines, as fundamental habits to ensure good health and to prevent water-related diseases. The show combined theatre, acrobatic performances and participatory discussions with the audience on hygiene and sanitation topics.

Each show lasted around 40 minutes and was followed by discussion with community members. The circus staff encouraged people to interact, to answer questions, to demonstrate good hygiene behaviors and to express personal points of view on the topics discussed.

The events not only had an awareness-raising purpose, but also served to support the mental health and community healing of audiences by providing a special and colorful day where children and adults could come together to learn, discuss, and enjoy the performances.

An acrobat performance from Fekat Circus
A child interacting with the Circus crew, explaining the main points of the show