Water and Sanitiser
319 million people in sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to a hygienic water point, a figure which equates to 48% of Africa’s population (WHO). Research by WHO and UNICEF demonstrated that rural areas suffer the most. They found that 29% of rural health facilities had no water services in 2016 and 42% of rural schools are without water services (2018)
Botswana is among the top 17 countries globally facing an extreme water crisis. The impact of which is felt critically in rural communities.
In South Africa 46% of a 56m population do not have water in their homes. 13% of those living in the rural areas of Mpumalanga and KwaZulu Natal Province have to travel over 200 metres to reached piped water from a communal tap.
The people most affected by water scarcity also tend to be vulnerable members of society in other ways; they suffer from limited funds, poor nutrition, life-threatening communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDs and TB.
The main precautionary measures advised by WHO in the face of COVID-19 are:
•Frequent and comprehensive hand-washing practices
Both of these are made difficult by a lack of household access to water, and a dependency on communal taps.
What are we doing about it?
The Africa Foundation regional teams are perfectly positioned to recognise critical needs and ways in which we can provide immediate assistance.
A number of broken boreholes have been identified, which with repairs will improve access to water in clinics, communities and centres supporting Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVCs) and providing care to the sick and elderly in their homes – known as Home-Based-Care Centres (HBCs).
Potential sites for new boreholes are a priority, in order to increase the number of sites at which water can be collected.
The most vulnerable households are known, and on a register to receive a Hippo Roller. These 90 litre barrels which can roll over ground enable the easy transport and storage of large volumes of water, reducing the burden and frequency of collecting water from a communal point.
Sanitizers and surface cleaners are being sourced to provide bulk supplies to all OVC / HBC centres in our communities – were children no longer at school go for food and support – and from where volunteers are going to tend to the ill in their homes.
These are ambitious goals and require fast action if they are to create a real impact and protect the least resilient communities from the spread of COVID-19.
The strategy of #flatten the curve aims to slow down infection rates so as not to over burden the healthcare system.
In many rural African communities, 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.
Most rural clinics have a shortage of equipment and medical supplies, and are resourced to deal with relatively low patient volumes, and relatively uncomplicated complaints. Referral for more complex cases is to District hospitals often over 20km away, accessible only by irregular public transport services.
In short, the clinics accessed by the 73 communities Africa Foundation supports are not equipped to respond to COVID-19.
What are we doing about it?
As a rule Africa Foundation does not support the running and maintenance requirements of clinics / schools / HBC centres – because this creates a dependency that we cannot guarantee is sustainable. Our work is done in complete partnership with the relevant Government departments who take responsibility for the staffing and resourcing of these facilities.
We are in unprecedented times, and our close relationships with the Government departments means that, in times of need, we pull together to do what is required for the benefit of the communities that we serve. As hard as the Governments will try to respond, supplies will be limited and distribution to rural areas may be slow.
It is our time to act. We are in contact with all of the clinics that Africa Foundation has supported, determining their critical needs. We are sourcing suppliers and determining costs and speed of delivery.
Every dollar will help to have the right supplies, in the right place, at the right time – and save people’s lives.