Week 1: Welcome to the HERP

Alex joins the team fighting hepatitis E - a disease that's particularly dangerous for pregnant women

During the month of September, a high number of hepatitis E cases were observed in the city of Am Timan in Chad. The HERP (Hepatitis E Emergency Response Project) was formed to help prevent a large scale outbreak.

As a WATSAN (Water & Sanitation) Specialist and part of the HERP team, I arrived in Am Timan a week ago to provide support with the planning, implementing, and monitoring of water, hygiene and sanitation activities as a part of the outbreak response.

View from a very turbulent and tiny 11-seater plane from Abeche to Am Timan.

The proposed WATSAN intervention plan:

  1. Chlorination of household water (20% of the population receives water via a piping network with the remaining 80% receiving water from boreholes with hand pumps, private & public open pools, and the river)
  2. Distribution of hygiene kits (20L Bucket with lid to store water, 20L Jerrycan, Soap, Goblet with handle, and Instruction Brochure)
  3. Promotion of hygiene

Because this is an emergency response, I had short notice from when the project was proposed to me and leaving on the airplane. I searched this blog site and the internet trying to figure out what to pack and couldn't find any specific data. (I need numbers people!) Exactly how many pairs of socks to should I pack? How many pairs of pants and what material? I need specifics! Not just "pack loose clothes". 

The Packing List: 

  • Socks (12),
  • Panties (14),
  • Sports Bra (3),
  • Bathing Suit (1),
  • Skirt (1),
  • Sweat Shirt (2),
  • Tanks (2),
  • Shirts (3),
  • PJ (1),
  • Shorts (1),
  • Pants (work 4, workout 1 comfy 1),
  • Jacket (rain 1, insulator 1),
  • Sandals (flip flop 1, athletic 1),
  • Shoes (1 runners, 1 TOMS),
  • Eye Drops,
  • Shampoo/Conditioner,
  • Soap Bar,
  • Tooth Brush/Paste,
  • Dental Floss,
  • Hair Brush/Elastics,
  • Nail Clipper,
  • First Aid (Tylenol, Daily Vitamin, Probiotics, Gravel, Immodium, Sleeping, Cold/Flu, Cough Drops, Hydrocortisal Cream, Hydration Packets, Water Treatment Pills, AfterBite, Band Aids/Polysporin, Sunscreen, Deet),
  • SPF Lip Balm,
  • Moisturizer,
  • Cell Phone,
  • Camera,
  • MacBook,
  • Headlamp,
  • Adapter,
  • MEC Liner,
  • Sleeping Mask/Earplugs/Headphones,
  • Sunglasses
  • Water Bottle. 

Packing list reflection: Well, as I lay under my mosquito net fan blowing at maximum capacity unable to go to work because I've already contracted some sort of stomach bug that is making me have hot flashes, nausea and dizziness, I can tell you that I wished I packed 2 Nalgene 1L bottles so I could alternate freezing them for cold water. I am happy I brought a portable pharmacy with me because the drugs in Chad are not the same brand that I'm used to at home. The "mamas" do our laundry everyday, so I may have overpacked on socks and work pants. And because I'm making hourly deposits to the bathroom, here's where I'm sleeping tonight in isolation. A tukul.

WATSAN life Week 1:

Briefings at the capital in N'Djamena, Am Timan briefings, project briefings and the recruitment of 240 chlorinators. The plan is to have two chlorinators working six hour shifts to makeup 12 hour days at 120 water points around the city. We sorted through more than 300 applications to determine potential candidates with interviews starting next week. Below is a hand washing station at the HERP work compound: A big container with chlorinated water and a bar of soap.