This year, the COVID-19 pandemic cast a spotlight on the dire need for safe water, sanitation, and hygiene solutions in vulnerable communities. As countries raced to contain the spread of the disease, local lockdowns and shipping delays created unique challenges for organizations serving these hard-to-reach communities.
Through your partnership and God’s grace, Water Mission scaled its response in 2020, reaching more people than ever before. Together, we installed more than 8,550 handwashing stations in key locations, including healthcare facilities, schools, and existing safe water collection points. We also distributed critical hygiene supplies, such as safe water and soap, to more than 800,000 people around the world.
Water Mission’s global footprint of partners and staff allowed us to quickly pivot and prioritize hygiene initiatives to help protect communities from COVID-19. With generous grants from the Poul Due Jensen Foundation and the Pentair Foundation, we provided hygiene training and handwashing stations to communities around the world.
In May 2020, the Poul Due Jensen Foundation gave Water Mission a $1.5 million grant to expand and accelerate our global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Together, we deployed technical staff around the world installing thousands of handwashing stations in vulnerable communities and leading COVID-19 specific hygiene training.
In every region where Water Mission serves, our dedicated global staff worked to help protect at-risk communities from COVID-19 through the distribution of hygiene supplies and education training. Proper handwashing and social distancing were not practiced in many of these locations due to a lack of resources and cultural understanding. With our partners’ generosity, Water Mission placed public handwashing stations outside local hospitals to fight the spread of COVID-19. In response to these barriers, we developed hygiene education resources, translated them into 10 different languages, and then worked through our existing network of communities to distribute information. Not only were these materials available for our staff and partners to use in local communities, we also shared them broadly with organizations working all over the world.
With your support, Water Mission’s efforts also included a special focus on serving healthcare facilities around the world. In rural regions, many health clinics have never had reliable access to safe water and soap. This created dangerous conditions for patients and staff that were only heightened by the pandemic.
“ On behalf of the Tanzanian government, I would like to thank Water Mission for complementing government efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19. … The biggest thing that health professionals need to focus on is to ensure that they wash their hands. … This initiative by Water Mission’s program in Tanzania ensures that happens.”
– Ummy Mwalimu, Minister of Health, Tanzania
For example, installing a Living Water Treatment System during the pandemic allowed the Chiwe Health Clinic in central Malawi to offer safe water to patients for the first time. With Chiwe’s safe water system, the clinic is also finally able to serve mothers and newborns. To further protect the region, our team installed an additional 400 handwashing stations and offered community hygiene training specific to COVID-19.
In partnership with the Ministry of Health in Tanzania, we installed 300 new handwashing stations in local healthcare facilities. We also worked with UNICEF to provide safe water in five hospitals in western Tanzania, supporting both Tanzanians and the hundreds of thousands of refugees living in camps in the region.
Amid an unprecedented health crisis that has driven people to self-isolation, you have shown communities around the world that they are not forgotten.