Leading with WASH for COVID-19 (Webinar Summary)

April 22, 2020

By Chad Hayward

Key Takeaways:

  1. Avoid your programming being a vector for transmission (“first do no harm”)
  2. Protect your staff
  3. Curate your WASH communication carefully and stay current
  4. Partner with others for effective WASH programming


Key Discussion Elements:

  • Lara Lambert (Director of Community Development), Water Mission:
    • talk through current issues with your staff and partners–don’t depend on writing to be sufficient.  WM came up with guidance on how to avoid being a C19 vector.
    • They focus on places where people come to collect safe water, working to avoid creating a new problem.
    • They designate a tap operator and use social distancing.  This person pumps and also transacts the money, incorporating PPE.
    • Noticing that many MoH clinics don’t have WASH infrastructure.  They have an assessment that can be done over the phone.
    • We must prepare for the reality that staff will become ill.
    • If you have surplus chlorine, that would be helpful to frontline workers
    • Always communicate with compassion.”This is the best we have now.  This will change.  We will always do our best.”
  • Matt Hangen (CEO), Water4
    • This is not a time to be a lone ranger–this is a time to partner.
    • We manage many hand pumps and pipe networks.  Hand pumps can have as many as 1000 hands touching them each day.  They rolled out hand washing stations at pumps by working with vendors.
    • They draw boxes on the ground to promote distancing; if you can get 10 people to space correctly, the rest will follow suite.  You can also use sticks, stones, chalk–anything to make it visual.
    • You may need to keep longer hours at kiosks also.
    • We take COVID very seriously–our rules can become minutia but they are essential.  It’s important that we consult with partners and any others to come up with the best plan to keep staff safe.
  • Samaritan’s Purse is using mass messaging via radio spots regrading hand washing and social distancing.  Also utilizing print materials in multiple languages.  Some programming that had to be discontinued was retooled with a WASH focus.
  • Operation Blessing is refocusing humanitarian efforts in favor of C19. Stressed the importance of being creating and doing what we can in the moment.  Currently seeing a vast difference between countries in their level of lockdown.

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