The outbreak of COVID-19 in Nigeria and its spread to Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states in the north-east increased pressure on the limited capacity to deliver enough water across many IDP camps, as well as essential supplies like soap and hand washing stations. These items have become scarce, resulting in price inflation due to demand. Partners will focus on intensive hygiene promotion to prevent COVID-19, including raising awareness of proper hand washing techniques with soap. Increasing access to enough water remains a high priority to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The WASH Sector developed guidelines, strategy and hygiene promotion protocols for the COVID-19 preparedness and response. These have been discussed during partner meetings, shared widely with partners and made available on the sector website-for reference. Physical distancing, hand washing stations at strategic locations within camps, door-to-door campaigns as opposed to mass gatherings and improvised distribution techniques are being implemented with the support of CCCM and Health Sector partners.Soap and information, education and communication (IEC) materials have also been disseminated during food distributions.
The Sector, through the Public Health Emergency Operation Centre and risk communications group has supported the development and distribution of IEC materials for COVID-19. Bulk production of posters, fliers and pamphlets is required in order to reach a wider audience on COVID-19 risk and prevention measures. The WASH Sector support all priority IDP camps and LGAs to develop business continuity plans, highlighting the need to maintain the current level of WASH services even when movement is restricted or locked down during the COVID-19 response.
The Sector pre-positioned 3,572 WASH response kits in Adamawa, Yobe and Ngala (Borno State) warehouses for rapid response by WASH Sector partners in case of a disease outbreak, like cholera or COVID-19) or new population displacements.
The Sector supported the Global Cholera Joint Operational Framework development by sharing insights from the Nigeria Emergency Response and lessons learned. In April, the WASH Sector reviewed the cholera preparedness and response plan together with the Health Sector. Partners are also working with Health, Food and CCCM sector partners to identify and construct temporary quarantine centres in seven LGAs in Borno State. COVID-19 specific achievements include but are not limited to: 833 handwashing stations set up in public and strategic areas around camps in Gwoza, Bama, MMC, Jere, Ngala and Dikwa in Borno State. The same locations have received about 28,000 hygiene kits, including soap for hand washing. Online reporting dashboard can be found here.
Water trucking remains an expensive option to increase water access to populations where coverage is low, while ground water potential is a challenge or new influx occurred/new covid19 cases identified. Long term design plans and investment is required to upgrade systems and reticulate water for maximum productivity.
The WASH Sector common pipeline stock is running low on crucial supplies, especially soap and chlorine due to increased demand for COVID-19 and cholera prevention and response. About 200,000 pieces of soap, 200 drums of chlorine and about 800 additional handwashing facilities are required, so additional funding is necessary to cover the gaps. For camps that have been established for over four years, this ratio of persons per latrine should be brought down to 20. Lack of enough land to construct sanitation facilities, specifically gender-segregated latrines, remains a major challenge to improving sanitation and hygiene services in camps and camp-like settings.