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Jul 5, 2020

Safe Water & Hygiene Supplies in Beira, Mozambique

As the COVID-19 virus continues to spread around the world, having access to hygiene supplies and handwashing facilities has become increasingly important, but for some of the most vulnerable communities, the lack of safe water poses an additional threat during an already challenging time. 

Following Cyclone Idai in 2019, many communities in Mozambique were still without access to safe water. The cyclone impacted hundreds of thousands of people, many of whom have not yet returned to a life that they can consider 'normal'. They were still in the midst of recovering from one crisis, when another crisis - the COVID-19 pandemic - arrived in Mozambique in March. 

We are working to provide access to safe water in different communities, to minimize the spread of COVID-19, as well as any other disease that can be prevented with good hygiene practices. IsraAID Mozambique's WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) team is deploying water solutions to health facilities in Beira. We are distributing NUF water filtration systems which are designed to produce up to 500 liters of clean drinking water per hour in places that do not have permanent access to electricity. This quantity can provide enough water on a daily basis for a community of several hundred people. We are continuing to work with the local authorities to determine optimal locations to install more systems.

Access to safe water and hygiene supplies is often the difference between contracting a number of viruses, or not. This is why we are not only installing systems that provide access to safe water, we are also distributing soap, providing training for key members of the community, and promoting good hygiene practices through a number of channels. We have been adapting our usual psychosocial (PSS) training that we operate for teachers, bringing soap, buckets and water purification supplies to every session, as well as focusing on how to promote a healthy school and classroom. We have also been distributing activity kits to people's homes, and broadcasting information on PSS for adults and storytelling on PSS for children over the radio, allowing us to continue - albeit adapted - our psychosocial support to children, even when we are not able to physically meet in school. 

Thank you for your continued support during the pandemic. 

Jun 23, 2020

The Effect of COVID-19 Lockdown on Gender-Based Violence

As parts of the world begin to emerge from COVID-19 lockdown, IsraAID is focused on continuing to provide recovery support. Many vulnerable communities lack the resources and access to transition back to normalcy, including locations where protracted refugee crises are ongoing. IsraAID South Sudan is hard at work offering direct service delivery to assist refugee, host, and IDP communities to promote proper hygiene practice, offer psychosocial support to those most acutely affected, and help communities adhere to health guidelines.

Since March, South Sudan has had significant restrictions on movement to limit the spread of the virus. Borders and schools were closed, community gatherings were also ordered to stop, and a nighttime curfew was set. This prevented the virus from reaching the country until the beginning of April. At over 1000 active cases, the country began to re-open in May.

Home isolation and high levels of stress have caused the rate of domestic abuse and other forms of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) to skyrocket. Even before the pandemic, 65% of women and girls in South Sudan were survivors of GBV; amid the current realities, this is expected to dramatically increase. For both men and women, it may have been harder to find a good source of income amid government restrictions, which increases the stress levels at home and among family members, in addition to the direct stress of limited resources. There has also been less connection and communication between women and girls, and their usual support networks, which makes it more challenging to ask for support, or for others to pick up on any concerns. As such, IsraAID’s teams:

  • Transitioned activities at Women and Girl Friendly Spaces to accommodate health guidelines - by increasing the number of sessions to allow for small participant groups.
  • Promoting awareness of GBV issues among men and boys, calling on them to help lead the charge in ending these harmful practices.
  • Purchasing phone credit to provide remote case management for survivors of GBV, in light of increased demand and limited physical access to beneficiaries.
  • Continuing home visits as an essential service amid increasing cases of domestic violence
  • Distributing hygiene items to communities with limited access, to ensure higher levels of prevention even in remote, under-resourced areas.

Due to less restrictive government regulations, we are now able to increase our work with the community, and are hoping that we can soon return to our pre-COVID-19 programs at full capacity. 

Thank you for your support of these critical programs!

Jun 22, 2020

The Places Where Handwashing is a Privilege

How do we get through this crisis? It’s the question on everyone’s lips. By now, we’re used to hearing – and following – all the key messages. Stay inside. Keep at least two meters away from anyone else. Wash. Your. Hands.

But what happens in places where these important public health instructions aren’t just a shift in lifestyle, they’re basically impossible? That is the reality for many of the world’s refugees.

In Kakuma Refugee Camp in northwest Kenya, home to more than 190,000 refugees who have fled conflict across the region, water is in short supply. IsraAID runs three safe spaces in the camp offering daily activities, education and – crucially – safe water for children. The new regulations brought in to help control the spread of the virus have forced our team to temporarily suspend these activities. But without these safe spaces, many children in the camp will be at greater risk. Add to that severe shortages of medical facilities and personnel and it’s clear that a coronavirus outbreak in Kakuma could be devastating.

Thousands of miles north of Kakuma, the Greek island of Lesbos is one of the main entry points to Europe for refugees fleeing conflict and political persecution in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and around the world. Many of them end up in Moria Refugee Camp. More than 20,000 people have been pushed into a camp designed for just over 3,000. The day-to-day potential for harm has now been coupled with the risks of a global pandemic, and fears about a potential outbreak in Moria have risen as cases of COVID-19 have been reported on the island.

In order to meet the challenges of the pandemic head-on, our teams are coming up with creative solutions to keep programs running and contribute to a global effort to reduce the spread of the disease. In some places, like Greece, where most of the refugees we work with have access to smartphones, we are transitioning our classes and services online or providing activity ideas and homework for children.

In Kenya, in addition to food supplements to combat malnutrition, we are donating other basic and medical supplies, including soap, hand sanitizer, malaria test kits, and more.

We will get through this thanks to a big, shared effort on the part of governments, businesses, NGOs, and communities. No one has all the answers, but if we first acknowledge that we’re all in this together and that everyone can play their part, then that is an important start. For IsraAID, this means doubling down on our commitment to the often-vulnerable communities we work with to help navigate a safe path through this crisis by providing public health information, distributing hygiene supplies, putting classes and trainings online where possible, and – yes – making sure people can wash their hands.

Thank you for supporting refugees around the world. 

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