WASH first -COVID-19 response

WASH Flagship Impact Story

Living in a rural Hagugeta Kuni kebele of Shameshemene district in the Oromia Regional State, Woyitue had very little information about the COVID-19 pandemic as well as its preventive measures. Lack of adequate information on COVID-19 contamination and its prevention measures had left Woyitue and her community members defenseless to the virus.

As the global community suffers from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, community members in Arsi Negele and Shashemene districts of Oromia Regional State had very little information about COVID-19 as well as its preventive measures.

In addition to poor healthcare service delivery and lack of timely and accurate public health information, communities in the two districts suffer from poor hygienic behaviors, leaving them highly vulnerable to COVID-19 and related outbreaks.

Courtesy to its years-long presence in the area with proven track record across a range of sectors including Water, Hygiene and Sanitation (WASH) and health, Amref Health Africa was fast enough to launch an initiative that aimed to enable communities and health facilities’ against the COVID-19 pandemic through its WASH First-COVID-19 Response Project.

The project, with financial support from the Netherlands Government, responded to support the COVID-19 prevention efforts in the two districts. “Since the early days of the outbreak, they taught us the key information on COVID-19 prevention and control; advised us to wash our hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or uses sanitizer; use face mask,” Woyitue said.

“Now we know the importance of covering our mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, avoid touching the eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands, avoid close contact with people and maintain a distance of at least 2 meter, avoid handshake and hugging and avoid large crowds of people,” she added.

As part of its community mobilization activities, the WASH First-COVID-19 Response Project disseminated key messages through banners on COVID-19 facts, symptoms, transmission and prevention measures that aimed to sensitize the general public.

The campaigns used a variety of approaches and mix of methods to sensitize the community on COVID-19 through role plays, local songs, and poem by local artists groups, among others.

“Thanks to Amref Health Africa’s important awareness raising and material support such as face masks, soaps and sanitizers, we are now fully aware of how to keep ourselves safe from COVID-19,” Woyitue noted.

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