5000 plastic bottle hand wash units were rolled out recently across Cape Town’s informal settlements by the National Business Initiative (NBI) and Business for South Africa (B4SA) COVID-19 Water Working Group, in partnership with local NGOs and the City of Cape Town.
COVID-19 has brought into sharp focus the importance of hand washing for improved hygiene, public health and safety and curbing the spread of the coronavirus. However, safe access to hand washing is still considered a luxury for many people.
Three main hotspot areas – Khayelitsha, Dunoon and Bloekombos – are receiving the hand wash units via NGO partners with strong community ties in the respective areas, namely Community Organisation Resource Centre (CORC), Save our Schools (SOS) and Violence Prevention through Urban Upgrading (VPUU).
The rollout of the hand wash units will be taking place primarily within Early Childhood Development Centres (ECDs) across Cape Town’s informal settlements, with the kick-off/ launch event focusing on the importance of good hygiene practices on Global Hand Washing Day (15 October), which this year has the theme of “Hand Hygiene for All.”
The hand wash units will enable children and staff in and around the informal ECD centres to wash their hands regularly with soap and water. These small, portable and affordable 2-litre hand washing units incorporate a bracket to hold a two-litre soft drink bottle with a self-closing valve to conserve water, along with a soap holder. The units provide a simple, water efficient and convenient means to wash hands in almost any location. Training on use and installation has also been provided by the manufacturer, Envirosan.
This initiative has been made possible by the generous sponsorship of Astron Energy, working with the NBI and B4SA COVID-19 Water and Sanitation Working Group, in partnership with the City of Cape Town’s Water and Sanitation, Social Development and Environmental Health Departments.
Alex McNamara (NBI: Water Lead) says: “This initiative serves as an excellent example of how partnerships can achieve long-term improved health benefits in communities, showcasing the possibilities inherent in collaboration between business, government and civil society.”
Hotspot areas are often high-density informal settlements which are at higher risk of COVID-19 transmission, given limited hand washing facilities and practical difficulties experienced in social distancing.
As one of the eight focus areas of the B4SA Economic Interventions Workgroup, the Water and Sanitation group will focus on delivering targeted emergency water response projects. It works to provide hand washing facilities in dense urban areas and providing community access to water for hand washing in rural areas. It seeks partnerships and sources funding for project implementation. It coordinates activities with corporate initiatives.
The working group coordinates its programme of action with the response efforts of the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) and local municipalities.
In addition to specific projects, the working group will promote WASH messaging and support initiatives to strengthen and sustain water security, both in the short and medium term during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as in the longer term. By seeking partnerships for fundraising and implementation, the B4SA Water and Sanitation sub-workgroup, can focus efforts in communities and projects where its partners operate.