EAC, IOM, GIZ hand over WASH facilities to East Africa Community Partner States
Mwanza– The East African Community (EAC), International Organization for Migration (IOM) and German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) officially launched (14/5/2022) the handover of handwashing facilities to authorities in six EAC Partner States as part of efforts to strengthen cross border collaboration on water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH).
A total of 32 such facilities have been built in high risk areas for the spread of infectious diseases in the six countries of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. The cooperation project that ended with the hand-over of these facilities began in June 2021 and also included risk and crisis communication and sensitization measures in the respective communities.
The handwashing facility at Kamanga Point of Entry in the country’s city of Mwanza was handed over to the government of Tanzania on 14 May 2022.
The handover happened during a regional meeting (12-14 May 2022) in Mwanza bringing together national authorities, experts, decision-makers, and key stockholders across the EAC region. The meeting also aimed to identify and address gaps in strengthening cross-border preparedness and response and promote regional standards and policies in accordance with the International Health Standards (IHS). The meeting provided an opportunity to understand the current cross border situation on health and WASH gaps and key public health threats, discuss issues, challenges, gaps, and opportunities as well as operational modalities to strengthen cross border coordination mechanisms to better respond to WASH, infection prevention and control gaps in the EAC region. Participants also discussed and agreed on key action points for a bilateral and multilateral mechanism to enhance cross-border collaboration; and to develop a road map as a strategic priority to enhance regional cross border collaboration.
The facilities were built through a regional project known as “WASH and health promotion sensitization and awareness on COVID-19 and other communicable diseases in the EAC region.” The project came against a backdrop of high human mobility and risk of spread of communicable diseases in the region. The project is expected to increase awareness and enhance health and hygiene protective behaviors and practices to prevent the spread of zoonotic and water-borne infectious diseases including COVID-19, in selected high-risk areas along transport and waterway corridors in the six Partner States.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shed light on the need to focus on improving the region’s ability to respond to the special requirements of cross-border preparedness and response and address the needs of migrants and cross border communities. EAC continues to support Member States capacities for preparedness and response to pandemic and epidemics and other public health emergencies across the border and along migratory routes in compliance with the International Health Regulations (IHR) (2005).
The project reached more than 4.7 million people with behavior change interventions, including health and hygiene risk awareness activities and capacity building of key community influencers.
“The project has helped increase awareness and enhance health and hygiene protective behaviors and practices to prevent and respond to the spread of infectious diseases including COVID-19 in EAC region,” said Christophe Bazivamo, the EAC Deputy Secretary General Productive and Social Sectors.
Mohammed Abdiker, IOM Regional Director for the East and Horn of Africa said, “Population mobility across borders is one of the main factors that drove the spread of COVID-19 and made the pandemic so complex and difficult to contain. IOM shall continue its support to national public responses for COVID-19 and other pandemics. IOM will contribute to strengthening the capacities of institutions and health personnel building on lessons learnt from our current interventions.”
GIZ representative, David Mbulumi, said “we believe that experience and lessons from implementation of this project will be useful as reference points in strengthening cross border preparedness and response.”
The 1,8 million EUR project was financially and technically supported by the German Government through the “Support to Pandemic Preparedness in the EAC Region” project and implemented through the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH in close cooperation with the EAC Secretariat.
The project was directly implemented in all the six partner states through IOM country offices and National Focal points from relevant ministries, local government authorities, border authorities, other stakeholders and implementing partners.
For media inquiries and interview requests, please contact Simon Peter Owaka, Senior Public Relations Officer, Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Department, EAC Secretariat, Arusha, Tanzania Tel: +255 768 552087, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
David Mbulumi, Risk and Crisis Communication Advisor, Support to Pandemic Preparedness in the EAC Region, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, Email: email@example.com Tel: +255 27 2050 124, Mob: +255 682 308 007