Twenty portable handwashing facilities are now accessible for homeless persons in seven locations in the Sudanese capital as part of the International Organization for Migration's (IOM) emergency response to COVID-19.
The initiative developed in close coordination with Sudan's Khartoum State Ministries of Social Development and of Health responds to the community's urgent needs for safe drinking water and adequate sanitation. Access to safe water and sanitation (WASH) in Sudan is chronically underdeveloped and further exacerbated in areas affected by conflict.
"We stand today with the Sudanese people and government to effectively respond to this public health threat, and to improve access to essential hygiene and clean water," said Catherine Northing, Chief of Mission, IOM Sudan.
Five of the handwashing facilities were placed in quarantine centres, where 169 migrants returning from the Libyan border are being quarantined.
"Our priority is to protect and support children and youth on the street," said Ishraga Algaili, Director of Social Welfare, Khartoum State Ministry of Social Development. "Awareness sessions are being conducted throughout different locations in Khartoum State to widen the reach to vulnerable groups. More awareness among these groups is needed."
This initiative paves the way to a COVID-19 awareness campaign targeting homeless children and youth in Khartoum implemented by the Khartoum State Ministry of Social Development in cooperation with the Ministry of Labour and Social Development, Patient Care Fund Organization, Youth without Borders, the Sudanese Association of Iraqi Institutes and University Alumni, and IOM.
Children and youth whose family's income is insecure, and those who are separated from their families and live in informal settlements and camps, are at heightened risk during the pandemic. They often have limited access to basic health care, health information and water, hygiene and sanitation facilities.
"I learned how to protect myself and wash my hands," said Yousif, a young man who participated in the awareness sessions in Ombada, Omdurman. "I will make sure to teach others."
"Our response needs to make sure that no one is left behind. We are working closely with our governmental and community partners to identify the most acutely vulnerable groups and will target our immediate response for their benefit," said Northing.
Safe access to clean water, sanitation and hygienic conditions is critical to prevent the spread of coronavirus. IOM continues to mobilize to prevent the spread of the disease by setting up and enhancing water and sanitation services. Additional hand washing facilities will be established and donated to the Government of Sudan in their fight against this outbreak.