Improving communities’ access to clean water during the COVID-19 emergency through the rehabilitation of boreholes.
The global community is racing to slow down and eventually halt the spread of COVID-19, a pandemic that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and sickened 4.5 million people. In Africa, the virus has spread to dozens of countries within weeks. Governments and health authorities across the continent are striving to limit widespread infections. As of May 20th, 2020, The Gambia has reported 24 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with Senegal (The Gambia’s only immediate neighbour) recording 2,617 cases.
A state of public emergency was declared amid intensified control measures against the deadly virus. The proclamation orders closure of non-essential premises and a freeze on all forms of public gatherings, including in schools, in a bid to stop the spread of the virus.
United Purpose Gambia instituted a COVID-19 taskforce that coordinated and supported projects to implement activities while following the health guidelines.
Key among these activities was the implementation of the CO2balance project that aims to support the repair of 80 wells across the country. Given that the COVID-19 transmission risk is reduced through effective hygiene and hand washing, UP felt it was necessary to continue providing WASH support to the vulnerable communities that lack proper WASH facilities since proper hand washing requires the use of clean water. During the repair work, local technicians were provided with protective equipment like face masks and gloves. They also used sanitisers to thoroughly disinfect the surfaces of the materials and wells, and their surroundings after conducting the repair and before leaving the work site.
UP formed / strengthened the Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) committees to manage the use of the facilities. The committee and their communities were instructed on how to maintain the water points, but to also respect and maintain social distancing guidelines when they converge to fetch water at the well.
CO2balance are thankful to the UP Gambian team for their support and initiative to quickly develop measures and strategies that allowed the project activities to continue during the pandemics breakout whilst the country was in lockdown. This was not only to keep the project on track, but because the activities help prevent the spread of COVID-19 to those most vulnerable. It is a time of our lives where the importance of safe water and good hygiene and sanitation is saving more lives in the face of the pandemic – it soon became essential to ensure the project progressed and the remote communities were reached safely so they too could have their boreholes rehabilitated and gain the benefits that the trainings deliver.