The COVID-19 pandemic highlights the importance and preventive power of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) to human health and well-being. Good hygiene, including handwashing with clean water, is the first line of defense against COVID-19 and other viral diseases. With large networks of influence, what responsibility do businesses have in contributing to this access and how do we scale-up current response efforts to build long-term resilient systems?
COVID-19 has laid bare the vulnerabilities of our systems, including those that provide water, sanitation and hygiene. In our least developed countries, nearly 3 in 4 people have nowhere at home to wash their hands with soap and water. Good hygiene behaviours and WASH provision are important in both developed and developing countries particularly within formal and informal work places which includes offices, factories and field locations. Workplaces have the potential to raise transmission risk, as they are spaces where people interact for extended periods of time.
As the world transitions and begins to focus on recovery efforts, businesses will need to invest in prevention measures in their owned and operated facilities and throughout the broader supply chain to ensure the health of their staff and the resilience of the supply chain for business continuity. Importantly, this includes personal and environmental hygiene practices such as handwashing and surface hygiene, and reinforces the business case for taking action on WASH.
Effectively responding to COVID-19 and building long term plans to prepare for potential future shocks will require a holistic approach and collective hygiene response that includes behaviour change and practical action in addition to building strong water and sanitation systems able to withstand the next shock.
WASH4Work partners have responded to the pandemic by launching a number of new initiatives and projects. We are committed to sharing tools, resources, and experiences from companies and other partners here, to support an informed response to this unexpected and unpredictable pandemic.
WASH4Work partners: non-company responses to COVID-19
Posted by WaterAid on 20 March 2020
Rising cases of COVID-19 in Africa as WHO advises countries to ‘prepare for the worst’. WaterAid CEO, Tim Wainwright, and handwashing and hygiene experts are available for interview.
Posted by Kurtis Cooper (UNICEF New York) on 13 March 2020
As the pandemic continues its spread, UNICEF is reminding the public of the importance of handwashing as a key prevention measure against COVID-19 and urging renewed efforts to provide access to this most basic of public health interventions around the world.
Posted by Anna France Williams on 20 March 2020 In Water, Climate change
WaterAid is calling for urgent action from governments around the world and the international community to include safe water and sanitation in their plans for dealing with the impact of climate change.
Posted by Sanitation and Water for All Secretariat on 27 March 2020
During this global crisis, SWA wants to continue supporting partners everywhere. SWA created a platform for exchange and dialogue on COVID-19 and water, sanitation and hygiene. They also started a webinar series focusing on COVID-19 and water, sanitation and hygiene.
Posted by WSSCC on 31 March 2020
People in least developed countries, people most left behind and least able respond, are impacted most by unsafe sanitation or absence of handwashing facilities. What are the links between transmission of diseases like COVID-19 and sanitation and hygiene services?
WASH4Work partners: company responses to COVID-19
Posted by Diageo Press Office on 23 March 2020
Diageo has pledged to enable the creation of more than eight million bottles of hand sanitizer, by donating up to two million litres of alcohol to manufacturing partners, to help protect frontline healthcare workers in the fight against COVID-19.
A message from Alan Jope (CEO, Unilever), posted on March 24 2020
Bravo Unilever donating $100m of soap, hand sanitizer, bleach and food to communities around the world. As well as extending $500m of credit to small scale producers + retailers in their value chain.
Posted by Katy Askew on 26 March 2020
Food industry giants Nestlé and Unilever have unveiled how they are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic to support their suppliers and the communities in which they operate globally.
Vevey, Switzerland, 26 March, 2020
Building on humanitarian efforts, Nestlé joined forces with the IFRC in response to its emergency appeal. The IFRC is a strong and trusted global partner of Nestlé, with unmatched presence and expertise in providing first aid, emergency response and epidemic control.
Posted by Gap Inc. blogs on March 27 2020
Gap Foundation will be donating over $1 million to local, state, national and international non-profit organizations.
Johannesburg, South Africa, 29 March 2020
Sasol has partnered with government to help combat the spread of COVID-19 in South Africa.
WASH4Work members are launching several resources, tools and guidance related to hygiene and water access response for business in the context of COVID-19. We listed below the most relevant resources.
1) COVID-19 and hygiene FAQs:
WaterAid developed a list of resources related to COVID-19, including a graphic with key behaviours to prevent the spread of coronavirus and a short film explaining the importance of handwashing. Please click here to access all the resources from WaterAid.
2) New guidelines to help employers support families during COVID-19:
New guidelines issued by ILO and UNICEF call on enterprises to do more to support working families during the pandemic. Download the preliminary technical note here.
3) How business is responding to COVID-19:
WBCSD created a page in its website where users can find links to announcements from WBCSD members companies and others who are taking extra-ordinary business actions in relation to COVID-19. Please access this webpage here.
4) Understanding hygiene promotion in the context of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak (UNICEF guidance note):
This note provides guidance on which aspects to consider when planning and implementing a hygiene promotion campaign as part of a broader risk communication and community engagement strategy. It is not meant to provide a comprehensive guide to designing a behaviour change campaign, but rather prompts and questions to consider when engaging with local governments on behaviour change interventions in the context of this new virus. The content is based on lessons learned regarding gaps in hygiene promotion during past public health emergencies and general programming. Available in English, Spanish and French.
5) Live: Country Experiences on COVID-19 and WASH
Many SWA partner countries across the globe are at various stages of COVID-19 spread and are sharing with us the steps they are taking to prevent and respond to this pandemic.
SWA counts among its partners many who are working at the frontlines–both at the global level, such as WHO, UNICEF– and at the national level-through government agencies, civil society, private sector and research institutes. At the current critical time, access to reliable information, promising practices and thought leadership is crucial.
Therefore, through this live-blog, we will be regularly sharing the approaches our partners are taking to the COVID-19 emergency, and how they are using multi-stakeholder platforms to strengthen preparedness, response and coordination.
6) SWA Webinar: COVID-19 and water, sanitation and hygiene
The dramatic spread of COVID-19 has disrupted lives, livelihoods, communities worldwide and has put water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) at the forefront of all messages. This outbreak demands global cooperation among governments, international organizations, civil society, private sector, research and learning, and all professionals in the sector, to strengthen the systems and make sure that the human rights to water and sanitation are respected.
In this context, SWA is organizing a special webinar focusing on COVID-19 and WASH featuring UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO) and Governments.
Recording of the webinar: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tj8PitbdcIo
The WASH in Schools Network (UNICEF, GIZ, Save the Children, WATERAID; Emory, LSHTM, among others) has compiled this knowledge map with links to relevant materials about COVID-19 for learners, their families and the education system. The map is intended for the time when schools are closed and in preparation for re-opening of schools.
This technical brief from UNHCR provides suggested activities for COVID-19 response among refugee settings.
9) “WASH Coronavirus Away” Poster
Published: March 24, 2020
This printable poster can be used to help raise awareness of key times for handwashing with soap to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It is designed for all audiences and can be downloaded for free through GHP’s resource hub. This poster is available in English, French, and Spanish.
WASH4Work is organizing a series of webinars on COVID-19 and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). Please find below a list of the past and upcoming webinars.
The COVID-19 pandemic highlights the importance of good hygiene and clean water as the first line of defense against COVID-19, and other viral diseases. With large networks of influence, what responsibility do businesses have in contributing to this access, why is it equally a first line defense for operational resilience and how do we do it? This webinar will explore the key links between COVID-19, WASH, and the role that businesses can play to take action in response to this pandemic.
We have seen partners of WASH4Work respond to the pandemic by launching a number of new initiatives and projects. This webinar brings together companies and partners to share their experience in coping with such unexpected and unpredictable pandemic. We encourage companies and WASH colleagues to join this webinar, contribute to the conversation and share key learnings.