Prioritizing COVID-19 Safety while Maintaining Basic Needs

By: Leah Goldmann

COVID-19 has undeniably interrupted our everyday lives in multiple ways – how we work, who we can see, where we can go. For some, COVID-19 also poses a risk to other essential services, like access to water. Guaranteeing water and sanitation is indispensable in “normal” times, but is especially relevant during a pandemic with a virus that spreads so quickly and can have fatal outcomes. Experts have been clear about prevention tactics such as social distancing and handwashing, but what happens when your point of access to water is in a public space?

In the Lango region of Northern Uganda, Lifeline’s EverFlow Africa initiative has supplied reliable access to water for over two years by keeping rural water points up and running. EverFlow is based on a social enterprise model. This means for a modest monthly subscription fee, EverFlow provides routine preventative maintenance, annual handpump overhauls, emergency repair response within 24 hours, and a toll-free hotline to report pump breakdowns.

As a member of the Apac District COVID-19 Task Force, Lifeline’s EverFlow team has been developing safety measures and service adjustments to address the risk presented by the virus at water points, such as virus transmission, inability of community members to pay for maintenance services, and subsequent income risks for mechanics.

What does this mean for those living in EverFlow’s service area?

  • Expanding access through extension of the toll-free hotline to all community members in Apac and Kwania Districts — a 12x growth in our service area & customer base
  • Free emergency repair services for communities by waiving monthly costs and suspending disconnections for unpaid fees
  • Preventing virus transmission by equipping staff with protective gear, limiting exposure, and sanitizing pumps
  • Job security for contracted handpump mechanics through a relief salary
  • Health and hygiene promotion through radio show messages

Lifeline and Everlow are continuously monitoring the situation on the ground, as well as following all mandates by the Government of Uganda. While we are maintaining discretion, we will continue to ensure and promote access to water as our best defense to slowing the spread of COVID-19.

Do you work in WASH?

We are eager to learn from our peers about how you are continuing to provide services in a safe and innovative way! Tweet @Int_Lifeline and @EverflowAfrica with #CleanWaterUnderCOVID

How can you support?

Any donations will be directed to immediate COVID-19 relief services to ensure that communities in Lango have reliable and safe access to water.

Learn More:

More details about EverFlow’s latest efforts are available in these PDFs, download here:

EverFlow_COVID-19 Response 20200511

EverFlow_COVID-19 Response 20200409