Four ways UNICEF Nyala office is supporting COVID-19 interventions in South Darfur
Solar power, water, sanitation and awareness campaigns are some of the tools used to protect children living in street conditions, vulnerable families, refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from the virus.
As COVID-19 spreads throughout Sudan, UNICEF along with the Ministry of Health and other partners are working together to prevent the virus from reaching the most vulnerable groups.
In South Darfur, UNICEF’s disease prevention efforts have been targeting and supporting street children, vulnerable families, refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
In the Beliel refugee camp in South Darfur, UNICEF is supporting the improvement of access to information on COVID-19 and on practical measures to prevent infection through informational posters, painting and music.
In refugee camps, where access to information is critical to prevent the spread, UNICEF is supporting health workers through home visits and the use visual posters.
In the city, radio messages, songs and drama are produced through Radio Nyala which broadcasts four times a day to reach the largest population. The main messages broadcasted target the community and include prevention methods, hand washing, physical distancing, and avoiding eating from communal bowls and attending large Iftar gatherings during the month of Ramadan.
Challenges remain ahead as behaviour change is critical to prevent spread of the virus. UNICEF has been successful in reaching many people in terms of their understanding of COVID-19 symptoms and prevention measures; but, turning this into behaviour change is hard. People need to take simple measures such as physical distancing, hand-washing and not eating from a communal bowl very seriously. To address this, community leaders such as imams and youth groups have been included to advocate for behavioural change as they have the strongest influence on communities.
Food, water and sanitation
UNICEF Sudan is helping children living in street conditions in the city of Nyala by providing meals and access to soap.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic UNICEF has distributed 183 cartoons of soap (32,940 pieces) to vulnerable families in IDP camps, health centers across the state and to isolation centers in Nyala in order to help promote frequent handwashing, which is known to be a powerful tool in preventing the spread of the disease.
In the Nyala Isolation Center, UNICEF has supported the construction of ten cubic metre (m3) capacity elevated tanks and renovated the internal water network to ensure the continuous availability of safe clean water for drinking and other purposes.
UNICEF has accelerated the commissioning of two solar powered 27 cubic metre (m3) capacity water systems in Tulus locality to reduce people gathering in the already over stretched water systems. Each system is estimated to be provide approximately 3,450 people, and their livestock, access to safe, clean drinking water.
In South Darfur, in addition to UN partners, UNICEF is working with a variety of partners to ensure the highest capacity of support to go towards the prevention of the spread of COVID-19 in the state. This includes working with State level ministries, mainly the State Ministry of Health (SMoH) and the Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion unit; national NGOs Rufaida and NIDO (National Initiative Development Organization); and international NGOs World Vision and the American Refugee Committee (ARC).
The UNICEF Sudan South Darfur office is also supporting youth groups and Sudanese Resistance Committees (neighborhood committees) and school Parent Teachers Association.
With thanks to our partners the Governments of Canada, Germany, Sweden, United States, the European Union, and the donors contributing to the UN Central Emergency Response Fund CERF for supporting UNICEF Sudan’s COVID-19 response in South Darfur
Anthony Spalton is the Chief of Field Office for South and East Darfur.