UNICEF distributes WASH supplies to schools and health centres to contain spread of COVID-19

Over 1,700 primary schools and 472 health centres receive WASH supplies to contain COVID-19

By Catherine Ntabadde
St. Peter's Primary School receives WASH supplies
18 March 2021

In January 2021, UNICEF embarked on the distribution of water, sanitation and hygiene – WASH supplies to 1,172 government aided primary schools and 472 health centres across the country to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. This distribution is part of UNICEF’s countrywide support to the Ministry of Health’s mitigation and prevention measures around COVID-19.

With funding from different donors, the WASH supplies distributed by UNICEF to schools and health centres ranging from health IIIs to regional hospitals will also strengthen infection, prevention and control through WASH interventions that will ultimately reduce the transmission of COVID-19.

This specific allocation of WASH supplies distributed to schools ensures hygienic environment for safe re-opening of schools for candidate classes and semi candidate classes.

UNICEF continues to work closely with the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education and Sports and district authorities to ensure that the WASH supplies distributed to schools and health centres meet the standards issued by the Ministry of Health to contain the spread of COVID-19.

A total of 245 villages in Mukono, Hoima, Masaka, Kamuli, Wakiso, Kampala, Koboko, Amuru, Adjumani, Zombo, Kikuube, Kamwenge, Kasese, Moyo, Yumbe, Madi-Okollo, Gulu and Isingiro also received WASH supplies to prevent and reduce the spread of COVID-19 in their communities.

Standard WASH packages of supplies distributed include:

• Each health centre received; laundry soap (10 boxes of 25 bars of soap each), calcium hypochlorite 65-70 per cent (6 cartons), water bucket (3), liquid soap (10 bottles of 5 litres each), 2 mops for cleaning, heavy duty gloves (2 pairs), sprayer/trigger bottle (2 pairs), gumboots (2 pairs), 10 bottles of bleach (I litre per bottle), sanitizer (10 bottles), aqua tabs (1 box containing 16,000 tablets) and two foot operated handwashing facilities.

• Each school received; 10 boxes of laundry soap, 6 jerrycans of 5litres of liquid soap (5 litres each), 2 mops, 10 bottles of bleach (1 litre), 4 pairs of gumboots, 2 pairs of heavy-duty gloves, 2 sprayer/trigger bottles, 10 bottles of sanitizer, 3 hand free washing facility; 25 packets of emergency sanitary pads.

Chlorine distributed to health centres

Voices of pupils of St. Peter’s Kyoga Primary School one of the beneficiaries of WASH supplies.

Birungi Adella, a primary seven candidate had this to say, “I feel good to see that you (UNICEF) has given us all these things to keep us safe. The water provided is clean. We can go and get water for drinking at any time. When you are in class and you feel thirsty, you can go and drink water. You have brought sanitizer which we can use to kill germs. I use the water for bathing, washing and drinking.”

Peace Kyomugisha is also happy that her school has access to water 24/7. The water is helping them adhere to the standard operating procedure which include regular washing hands.

In addition, other school tasks are now executed on time, according to Kyomugisha ever since UNICEF constructed a motorized water system. “The school is now free from any water borne diseases,” she adds.

Akankunda John Evans says, “The handwashing facilities we received have helped us to stop the spread of coronavirus. When we go outside and touch rough surfaces, we are able to wash our hands, hence killing germs.”

Pancratius Turyatunga, Head Teacher of St. Peter’s Kyoga was all smiles when a team from UNICEF and several journalists visited his school on 16 March 2021 to document the impact of the supplies they had received.

“The conditions in our school courtesy of UNICEF have facilitated the enrolment increment. The situation before COVID-19 was not good. With the support provided by UNICEF, we saw the numbers increase,” he explains.

Turyatunga adds that schoolchildren prefer to be at school because of the availability of equipment and facilities which enable them to adhere to the Ministry of Health standard operating procedures unlike at home where the facilities might be limited.

He notes that in primary six, the school has 51 pupils, an increment from 33 before COVID-19. In primary seven, the candidate class for primary education, there are 49 pupils, an increment from 36 before schools were closed.

The WASH supplies distributed to St. Peter’s and many other schools was made possible with funding from the Finnish National Committee for UNICEF.

At the same school with funding from the Netherlands Government, a five-stance modern latrine for girls and a motorized water system serving the school and surrounding population were constructed.

Godfrey Nkuba, Isingiro District Education Officer reveals that the WASH supplies distributed have enhanced primary health care in schools.

“Most schools are unable to provide basic needs to the pupils in schools. The support received from UNICEF is a great relief,” he enlightens.

Nkuba further reveals that the Government through the Ministry of Education and Sports provided UGX1.5 million (US$409) per term to the government aided schools for standard operating procedure adherence.

“UNICEF has complimented the government support. Our schools are safe, and no COVID-19 case has been reported in the school here,”

Godfrey Nkuba, Isingiro District Education Officer emphazises.

Through community engagement and public forums, Isingiro District authorities are sensitizing communities to send their children back to school during the phased approach being undertaken by the Ministry of Education and Sports.

He hastens to add that as result of COVID-19, some schoolchildren have opted to engage in several trades but as a district, they continue to reiterate to the communities about the importance of education.

At Bujalya Health Centre III in Kikuube District, UNICEF with funding from UKaid supported the procurement of WASH supplies; construction of a motorized water system, latrine blocks and bathing shelter for male and female, and an incinerator for waste management, according to UNICEF’s WASH Specialist for western Uganda Peter Opwanya.

Hussein Bwami, the district acting Chief Administrative Officer said: “We are grateful that UNICEF has lifted us up not only in WASH but many other sectors. Hygiene of latrines and bathing shelters is a critical component to attract patients especially mothers to come for the services.”

The District Education Officer Dr. Asaba Gerald notes that the WASH supplies have contributed to the containment of COVID-19 and many other water borne diseases.

“The absence of water and soap especially for mothers who come deliver from here means that they have to walk long distances for water. But in this case, we have the water and that will attract more mothers to give birth from here. UNICEF has constructed modern latrines and bathing shelters,” he adds.

Bath shelters