Clean hands and safe water

With support from UKAid, UNICEF is increasing access to clean water and hygiene to prevent transmission of COVID-19 and other diseases

Helene Sandbu Ryeng
a boy washing his hand
UNICEFSouthSudan/Nyilek
19 August 2020

“I wash my hands before taking my tea …. I wash my hands any time when they are dirty to remover germs. I wash my hand when I eat my food and after using toilet.” Ugwak Santo Tong is only five years old, but he knows handwashing is something you have to do many times per day to stay healthy. “I also wash hands, so I don’t get Corona,” he adds.

One of the 25 handwashing stations UNICEF and partners have installed in Wau as part of the COVID-19 response is at the Good Shepard Children’s Home where Ugwak lives together with 41 children including Barnaba Tong Deng (16).

“The bucket is placed at the entrance so everyone can wash their hands when they enter,” he explains.

“I wash my hands when I come from playing football with friends at the field and after fetching water from the hand pumps which are outside the fence. You know, people are touching the same handle. This way I’m protected from COVID-19.”

The handwashing stations are placed close to water kiosks and other water points to ensure clean water is available. To prevent diseases including COVID-19, you should wash your hands with soap and clean water.

A boy washing hands
UNICEFSouthSudan/Nyilek
Barnaba Tong Deng is washing his hands outside the children's home

Women and men are constantly moving in and out of the gate at the New Sites Primary Health Care Center in Wau. Health workers here are seeing between 200 and 300 patients every day. Ensuring good hygiene is paramount to avoid transmission of diseases from one patient to another.

“I wash my hands after serving a patient and before seeing a new,” health worker Pasquina Joseph Abdallah (48) says.

Before the outbreak of COVID-19 in South Sudan, the health centre didn’t have a proper handwashing station but that changed as UNICEF targeted health centres and other frequently visited areas for hygiene interventions.

“I feel I am protecting myself and patients from COVID 19 because I always wash my hands with clean water and soap since we got this facility. In addition to washing hands, I use hand-sanitizer.”

Vaccinator Christina Benjamin Taman (42) is also excited about the new handwashing station, and says it is not only protection her patients but also their families. “We ensure that all patients coming and going to this health care facility are washing their hands. Through that we prevent them from bringing diseases and taking diseases with them.”

A woman washing her hands
UNICEFSouthSudan/Nyilek
Pasquina Joseph Abdallah: "I wash my hands after serving a patient and before seeing a new."
A lady washing her hands
UNICEFSouthSudan/Nyilek
Vaccinator Christina Benjamin Taman: “We ensure that all patients coming and going to this health care facility are washing their hands. Through that we prevent them from bringing diseases and taking diseases with them.”

As an emergency intervention responding to COVID-19 and preventing transmission of other diseases in Wau, UNICEF is with support from UKAid increasing access to clean water and hygiene. UNICEF is expanding the Wau urban water supply to high density areas with vulnerable communities through rehabilitation and laying of new pipelines and water storage tanks, including the extension of the existing pipelines to seven water kiosks.

Furthermore, pumping hours are increased and chemicals for the water treatment plan is procured and prepositioned. 25 handwashing stations are placed in frequently visited areas to improve hygiene and prevent transmission of diseases including COVID-19. The project will directly benefit 17,400 people and indirectly reach 41,400 people.