WASH and Health Promotion Sensitization and Awareness Programme on COVID-19 and other Communicable Diseases in EAC Region
Access to safe, clean water remains a challenge to a large number of people and more disproportionately to vulnerable groups. Inadequate access to safe and clean water supply and sanitation services increases the risk of outbreaks of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.
Infectious diseases tend to spread rapidly and affect large numbers of people within a short time, disrupting daily livelihood activities, affecting environment and social dynamics in the communities.
In order to address the challenges of COVID-19, the EAC Secretariat through the Environment and Natural Resources department, in collaboration with WaterAid East Africa Region Office implemented a COVID-19 recovery project. This initial phase of the project, which was completed in 2021, focused on on five (5) border posts:
- Nemba/Gasenyi (Rwanda side);
- Holili (Tanzania side);
- Vurra (Uganda side);
- Busia; and
- Malaba (Kenya side).
Key interventions were the construction and installation of permanent handwashing facilities and awareness creation messages to sensitize border communities and truck drivers and their crews on the importance of handwashing as one of the important preventive alternatives against infections from communicable diseases.
Moving quickly to the second phase, EAC Secretariat with support from GIZ coordinated the implementation of the project on Water, Sanitation and hygiene (WASH) that focused at strengthening the capacity of Partner States in controlling the spread of the infectious diseases at the selected border sites in the region. The project that was jointly implemented in collaboration with IOM regional office and Partner States contributed to the implementation of the EAC COVID-19 Response Plan (2020), the IOM COVID-19 Strategic Response and Recovery Plan, and other relevant health plans in the region.
The project also contributed to the achievement of the WHO WASH Strategy as well as the regional IOM migration strategy’s health component for the East and Horn of Africa. Further, the project addressed the current challenges and gaps in relation to access to water and hygiene protective behaviors among selected communities along the following major transport routes and congregation’ points in the region:
- Burundi: Mugina, Nemba/Gasenyi and Kobero
- Kenya: Lunga Lunga, Miritini, Namanga and East Leigh
- Rwanda: Nyagatare, Kirehe, Musanze, Rubavu districts and Nemba/Gasenyi
- South Sudan: Nimule, Juba International airport and Wau airport
- United Republic of Tanzania: Mutukula, Zanzibar/Unguja, Kamanga and Namanga
- Uganda: Kasensero, Mutukula and Elegu
Targeted groups included cross border communities, communities along transport corridors, urban fragile communities, stranded migrants, truck drivers and their crews, boda-boda taxi drivers, community leaders along with local authorities such as border officials (customs, Immigration, port health). IOM provided technical support to the EAC Secretariat through the DIrectorate of Productive Sectors, for the implementation of this WASH programme thereby strengthening the EAC capacity to address infectious communicable diseases such as COVID-19 in the EAC countries.
Key activities of the project:
- Construction and Installation of 31 Handwashing Facilities: to accommodate adults, children, and People with Disabilities (PWD’s).
- Awareness creation messages: development of relevant messages to sensitize community on the importance of handwashing as preventive alternative from communicable diseases.
- Monitoring of the Project Intervention: Physical visit of the project officials at the site to monitor progress and communicate with relevant officials for the task at the border.
- Inauguration/launching of the HWF: short ceremony of handing over the handwashing facility/station to the responsible Government organ.
The regional launching of the constructed 32 HWFs was undertaken on 14th May, 2022 at Kamanga in Mwanza, in the United Republic of Tanzania.