Water4’s work & COVID-19

Corona Kryptonite

03.30.20

At Water4 we “love big and risk big.” We are being called to one common, global mission to love our neighbor, and our partners are ready to step in on their behalf. We are fighting a global pandemic, and it cannot be beaten without all clean hands on deck. 

What Americans are being asked to do today for the greater good (stay home, cook your own food, practice safe hygiene) is the result of an environment very familiar to where we serve in Africa, where infectious disease can be around every corner. Typhoid, malaria, meningitis, cholera and water-borne illnesses are front and center of daily life. People continuously deal with bouts of illness that are highly disruptive to “normal” routines at their best and are fatal at their worst. 

We understand that your own life is hard right now and you are adjusting to a new normal. We care about your family and your future. We also know that we can all find hope and purpose by focusing on meeting the needs of the most vulnerable when we feel most vulnerable. While the world’s activity grinds to a halt to track and curtail COVID-19, we must not forget one major difference between our world and theirs: we have soap and running water while they do not. And that makes a world of difference.

As you know by now, hand washing and social distancing are the ONLY ways to prevent greater spread of this disease. And healthcare for the infected requires hospital beds, protective gear, and safe hygiene. The whole world faces the same enemy. Our resources are stressed, but those in the health care facilities we serve are unimaginably more scarce. 58% of clinics in SubSaharan Africa lack safe water.

So what are we going to do about it? Water4 is scaling up what we do best: bringing safe water to all and training communities to practice good hygiene behavior. We are ramping up our focus over the next six months with healthcare workers in Africa to improve their access to NUMA safe water and hygiene products. This means rapidly scaling our new clinic connection program, as much as funding allows. 

In 2019, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control came to the Wassa East District in Ghana to see how well clinics were doing when it comes to hygiene. The situation they found was dire: on average, only 73 gallons of water per day are being used for baby deliveries and ALL other patient services at each clinic. By comparison, U.S. hospitals use an average of 570 gallons of water per staffed bed, per day. Healthcare workers lack sinks in the bathrooms, they lack ways to sterilize surgical tools, and they don’t have safe water to give sick patients to drink. 

But those few clinics that were part of our NUMA pilot in Wassa East looked different. They had sufficient water storage for hand washing and sterilizing surgical tools, as well as safe water that was uncontaminated and available for the sick to drink.  We want to take these results and run with them. 

Water4 and our partners are committed to being part of the global COVID-19 response. We are working with healthcare workers to develop new, COVID-specific hygiene training and expand our current WaSH training capacity by 50% across all 13 countries this year. We are identifying ways to expand NUMA piped water into more patient care areas while making new water connections to rural health clinics in four countries. Finally, we are accelerating the development and implementation of a brand new healthcare facility (HCF) water treatment technology. 

This is all part of an acceleration of our existing WaSH commitments for HCFs, which Water4 signed off on in 2019 as part of a global commitment. With the onset of COVID-19, we are now pushing to accomplish these goals before our 2025 deadline:

  • Accelerate Access: Pilot and scale revenue-based solutions that will sustain safe water delivery in HCFs in perpetuity in Ghana, Sierra Leone, Uganda and Zambia
  • Connect Clinics: Connect every HCF to a safe water source in the districts where we are targeting universal access to safe water; pilot clinic water treatment systems and internal plumbing to get more water to more rooms
  • Work for WaSH: Conduct WaSH training in HCFs to improve health and safety of caregivers, staff and patients; develop new COVID-19 WaSH curriculum for communities, schools, and clinics 
  • Share our Story: Work with and learn from the global Safe Water Enterprise community of practice to continuously improve our engagement and impact with HCFs
  • Integrate for Impact: Integrate our work with sanitation, hygiene, and solid waste providers to enable holistic service provision for HCFs 

With your support, we can save lives. When I served in West Africa as a missionary for five years, I came to find that switching from a mindset of scarcity to one of abundance gives me purpose. Ongoing waterborne illnesses also gifted me the ability to empathize and not just sympathize with people there. COVID-19 is giving the whole world that gift right now. Let’s not give in to our fears and anxiety. When we feel vulnerable, let’s pray for and give to those who are even more vulnerable.  Let your anxiety be turned into gratitude. Let your worry be translated into action. In times like these, let generosity be our path to freedom. We are one world, let’s fight as one!

03.23.20

Dear Water Warriors,

Wash your hands.  This is our number one defense against Covid-19, the novel virus that is causing a global pandemic.

But what happens when you have no water to do so?  What happens if you don’t have soap? What happens if the water you do have actually makes you even sicker, unable to recover from an infection?

As we in affluent nations begin to see the pain and disruption caused by infectious disease, I’m reminded that this has been a daily reality for many of our brothers and sisters in Africa, for their entire lives. Covid-19 cannot be contained without basic hygiene facilities and tools. That means it could spread much more quickly in Africa, where there are so many barriers to people having access to soap and safe water. 

This is why our work at Water4 is so vital.  It’s why now, more than ever, we need YOUR help to supply thousands of families with the best tool to fight disease – Education + Clean. Safe. Water.

Please give a special gift today to protect a family from disease.  

Water4 is a leader in providing cost-effective solutions to safe water and hygiene across Africa.  In collaboration with our partners in the field and with support from partners like you at home, we have supplied over 1.4 million people with the security of safe water.  Last year alone, we reached 73,897 people with our unique, life-saving hygiene behavior change programs.  

We have the tools and expertise to help hundreds of thousands of people protect themselves and their families from Covid-19 and other diseases plaguing their world.  We need your help to put safety into their hands. Please make an immediate donation to support our critical work.   

Let’s fight this disease and protect the vulnerable together.

Matt Hangen

Water4 President & CEO