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Lifewater Combating Covid 19

The global impact of this pandemic reminds us that we are truly living in a global village. Our “neighbour” is no longer just the person living next door, but includes everyone, everywhere.

We are bombarded messaging about how to stay safe, such as maintaining physical distance and washing hands frequently. Simple right?

Not so simple. In many places this message has not been communicated—or if it has, people must walk long distances to get water. This may mean walking in a group to stay safe, waiting in a crowd for a turn at the pump, and then taking hold of a pump handle that has been just grasped by many dozens of people. The longer the walk, the more physical contact; and the poorer the hygiene—because of course that precious water must be conserved.

Lifewater Canada’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak began in early March, 2020, and has focused on:

  • Education workshops: Hygiene education material was updated to include information on Covid-19. Large workshops with meals were replaced with socially distant small-group training of locally influential men and women who learned effective hand-washing, how to disinfect pump handles and buckets, and how to maintain two-metre distances when possible. In Liberia, where memory of the Ebola epidemic is still strong, people are especially receptive.
  • Sewing masks: Patterns for surgical masks provided by Canadian nurses were given to Lifewater teams overseas. Local tailors and seamstresses began sewing masks for the teams to distribute, and patterns to make more masks are being shared throughout program areas.
  • Super-chlorinated water and soap: Teams are helping to supply soap to rural villages in need. In Kenya, 13 elevated tanks were installed next to high-use wells. Super-chlorinated water is batched in these tanks, so people coming to draw drinking water can also access disinfectant water to clean their kitchens and disinfect toilet facilities. Many smaller tanks are being positioned in schools, where children continue to attend.
  • Repairing Pumps: The biggest impact can be achieved for relatively low cost; repairing a broken hand pump can cost as little as $5, and putting a pump back in service reduces crowding and wait times at neighbouring wells. The team in Haiti continues its active pilot project, repairing about two pumps per day—that’s safe water restored to 6,000 people per week!
  • New Wells: We continue to closely monitor the situation in our project areas and ensure that our teams comply with directions from local government and health officials. Teams in all our project countries continue to drill wells to reduce the number of people gathering at any one water supply, reduce wait times, and maximize the amount of water available for handwashing and household sanitation. Safe water also helps people avoid complications arising from preventable water-borne disease. Our teams maintain community involvement without direct contact. Community members still assist on site, but during the pandemic local people do not provide meals or housing for the drillers, or work alongside the teams as in normal times.

There is nothing simple about the situation we find ourselves in no matter where we live, but Lifewater is committed to working for the global good, one drop of clean water at a time.


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