Increasing community resilience in the face of COVID-19
“Sanitation is one of the basic necessities, which contributes to human dignity and quality of life and is an essential prerequisite for success in the fight against poverty, hunger, child deaths, gender inequality and empowerment.” ~Dept. Water & Sanitation SA.
319 million people in sub-Saharan Africa still do not have access to a hygienic water point, a figure which equates to 48% of Africa’s population (WHO). In the rural areas of Mpumalanga and KwaZulu Natal Province, South Africa, more than 12% of the population have no access at all to piped water and a further 13% have to travel over 200 meters to reached piped water from a communal tap.
The people who are affected by water scarcity also tend to be the most vulnerable members of society in other ways; they suffer from poor nutrition, limited funds, and the effects of the countries HIV/AIDs and TB epidemic, significantly reducing their immune system.
The main precautionary measures advised by WHO in the face of COVID-19 are:
- Frequent and comprehensive hand-washing practices.
- Social distancing.
Both of these are made difficult by a lack of household access to water, and a dependency on communal taps.
The Government of South Africa has taken stringent precautionary measures to ‘flatten the curve’ of infection so as not to over burden the healthcare system. However, in rural communities, the healthcare facilities are already woefully under-resourced and under-capacitated to effectively manage an outbreak of COVID-19.
Many rural clinics do not even have a direct water supply. They are dependent on municipality deliveries of water in tanks, or their own collection of water from community taps.
The Government closure of schools is a step to increase social distancing. While beneficial, the result has been an increased strain on centers which provide support for orphaned and vulnerable children (OVCs). Children whose home circumstances are unable to meet their physical and emotional needs depend on these centers for food, mentorship, life skills education and access to healthcare and social workers. Children are now attending the centers more often and for longer periods, and in doing so are at increased risk of infection.
Our goal is to act fast and ensure that:
- Clinics have access to water – through the repair or provision of new boreholes.
- The children and staff at OVC centres are kept as safe as possible, through the provision of safe water supply and sanitizers.
- Vulnerable households with no direct water supply have a hippo water roller which easily transports and stores 90 litres of water, reducing the frequency at which a person has to visit a communal water collection point.
£50 – Provides 10 liters of hand sanitizer to an OVC centre.
£160 – Buys a Hippo Roller for a vulnerable household, to collect and store water more easily and efficiently.
£1,500 – Can fund repairs of broken boreholes and taps at clinics and OVC centers.
£8,000 – Enables the drilling and installation of a water borehole to provide additional water sources in critical locations.