Wat is podoconiosis?

In Wollega many people suffer from severely swollen feet and lower-legs. This swelling is caused by damage to the lymph-system in their legs. Next to the often extreme swelling it affects the skin on the feet and the lower leg. The skin becomes rougher and thick, sometimes even with extreme wart like growths. The skin can also become grey in colour, like resembling the skin of an elephant - hence the name of the disease: elephantiasis. Elephantiasis-patients often suffer from fever and dreadfully smelling wounds. This smell is caused by fungal and bacterial infections of the skin.

the effects of elephantiasis

What is the cause of podoconiosis?

In West-Ethiopia the main cause of elephantiasis is podoconiosis. Podoconiosis is a disease caused by certain minerals in the soil which penetrate the skin of the feet and cause damage to the lymph-system. By washing their feet and wearing shoes people can prevent contracting this disease.

Heavy damage to the lymph-system results in disability, poverty and social exclusion. Often people end up living as a beggar.

How to prevent the disease?

Wearing shoes (and boots in the rainy season) is the best way to prevent the disease. Because it takes many years for the disease to develop, it is important to educate young children to wear shoes. Also daily washing of the feet prevents of getting the disease. Poverty, lack of water and ignorance of the cause of the disease still result in many people suffering from this disease


the poorest people cannot afford to wear shoes with adequate care of her feet this girl can walk and work again