Transit Centres (Camps): WASH and Shelter Projects
“This time of working inside camps in Serbia, was a time of learning for our young organisation.”
After the Barracks were evicted in May 2017, Watershed started to focus more intensely on WASH and shelter. Firstly, we provided labour for an emergency response shelter project, erecting tents and installing floors in Kikinda TC, in order to prepare the camp for the arrival of residents coming from the Barracks, with our partners Médecins sans Frontières (MSF).
Our first WASH activity, which helped to transition our activities from unofficial settings to inside the government run camps, was to conduct a thorough WASH assessment, led by our partner, MSF. We were able to visit all 17 camps in Serbia, in order to understand the conditions of the WASH facilities, which helped us to prioritise the camps that required interventions. We identified three camps in which we wanted to carry out WASH projects: Obrenovac TC, Sombor TC and Pirot TC.
The swift and simple maintenance project in Pirot consisted of replacing broken fittings, such as taps, and making simple plumbing repairs. The project took us a matter of days and upgraded the facilities from mostly unusable to fully functioning.
In Obrenovac TC, we carried out a six-week project in which our technicians and builders first acquainted themselves with conducting deep cleans and thorough overhauls (fixing or replacing all broken aspects of the facility). Upon our arrival there were just 20 working toilets and five functioning showers, for a population of 1,300 people. By installing 40 temporary chemical WCs while the project was taking place, we ensured people’s needs were still covered. We successfully recommissioned all of the existing facilities within the accommodation blocks. In addition to this, we carried out complete refurbishments of four shower containers and one toilet container, which were in an unusable condition, by rebuilding the interiors of the ISOboxes from the floor up. In hope of guaranteeing continued cleaning as required, we donated one month’s supply of cleaning products to the staff of the TC. To accompany our WASH project, we installed some recreational activity equipment as we had previously done in the Barracks; we built table tennis tables, cricket nets and benches.
In Sombor TC, despite that the majority of the indoor facilities were kept clean by the residents living there, some containers were again unusable due to overuse. Therefore, we conducted some minor repairs and maintenance on the indoor facilities to bring them up to standard, but concentrated most of our efforts on the containers. We fully renovated three shower containers and overhauled the toilet container. Whilst we were there, we arranged for a local metal supplier to repair the children’s playground.
This period of working inside the TCs in Serbia, and in close collaboration with humanitarian partners such as MSF, was a time of learning and development for our young organisation.