Water and Hygiene at the frontline against COVID-19

By UMUHIRE Valentin

 

Tackling COVID-19 requires a comprehensive package including preventive,protective and curative interventions .Poor WASH conditions and lack of hygiene practices contribute to the spread of infections and make it difficult to control the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since March 14 when COVID-19 was first detected in Rwanda, different government authorities have taken their stance to protect and contain the spread of COVID-19 pandemic. The government has taken strict measures to prevent the prevalence of the pandemic but constraints haven’t yet vanished as the problem of clean water, a vital ingredient in the fight against the pandemic, still surfaces regularly among Rwandans.

Water AID has called the government and its different partners to facilitate people find water at an affordable cost or facilitate means of payments during this pandemic 

In the radio –TV talk show, The Country Director of Water Aid in Rwanda Maurice Kwizera has reiterated that some parts of the country do not have access to clean water, which implies that “to ask people to regularly wash their hands without clean water may be difficult”.

He insisted that people are still quarreling for water sources across the country or lining long lines waiting for their turns to fetch. “We have seen people who enter markets but do not wash themselves, there are even health facilities that don’t have access to clean water”, he said.

Water Aid Boss in Rwanda has requested government and its partners  to help the vulnerable households to access clean water especially within this complex period of COVID-19 pandemic.“WASAC should consider shrinking water bill prices in order to help poor families to afford water expenses”, he noted.

Today, WASAC, has started implementing different strategies that will help citizens to cope with rough consequences of COVID-19 restrictions. Among them is continuous distribution of water to households’ pipes.

How is Water Aid Rwanda engaging in the response to COVID-19?

Water Aid is not a medical agency and does not deal with disease surveillance or case management, including treatment .As WASH agency and a global leader in hygiene promotion and behavior change, Water Aid is playing a preponderant role in supporting national institutions and government as well to promote hygiene, focusing on behaviors that are key in controlling and preventing the spread of coronavirus.

We have put many efforts in our operational country programs , we are supporting government institutions to design hygiene promotion packages  and support them to implement mass media , digital and social media campaigning to amplify hygiene promotion messaging , linking with COVID-19” Added Kwizera 

Evidence shows that during outbreaks people typically start washing their hands more because they are worried .However ,water and soap are less commonly available , which  can create a major barrier that prevents people from doing the right thing .

The Programs Manager of Water Aid Rwanda Jean Paul Mbarushimana said “we are supporting government especially in Nyamagabe and Bugesera districts to construct hand washing facilities in key public locations like markets and bus stops and e will continue  do so in schools during this budget year.”

During COVID -19 periods Water Aid in collaboration with other partners have distributed hygiene materials such as liquid soap and hand sanitizer to hospitals and Health centers of Nyamagabe and Bugesera Districts.

The Mayor of Bugesera District Richard Mutabazi said “We will always be proud of Water aid as a good partner, as the government ordered  to put  hand washing facilities in place , here in Bugesera we had them already , because of Water Aid .”

According to the Mayor of Nyamagabe district Mr Uwamahoro Bonaventure, clean water and hygiene are fundamental I fighting against COVID-19.”With the support of this partnership, our population will be aware of washing their hands as well as we continue give them that chance by providing hand washing facilities” confirms the Mayor.

With the health sector focuses on disease surveillance. Case detection, treatment and case management, the WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) sector to focus on the prevention and protection side of the response ‘ 

 

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