The EAC Secretariat in collaboration with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is implementing a project on water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) that will strengthen the capacity of Partner States to prevent and address infectious diseases at hot spot areas in the region.

“We have secured EUR 1.5 million from the German Government for the project. The project aims at increasing awareness and enhancing health and hygiene protective behaviours and practices to prevent and respond to the spread of infectious diseases including COVID-19,” says EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Productive and Social Sectors Hon. Christophe Bazivamo.

The project targets high-risk groups and areas in the six EAC Partner States, Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda that include cross border communities, communities along transport and water ways corridors, urban fragile communities, truck drivers, boda-boda, taxi drivers and migrants. It also includes community leaders and local authorities such as border officials dealing with customs, immigration and port health. The project is expected to reach more than 1 million people with health and hygiene promotion initiatives and install around 19 fixed handwashing facilities at selected areas in the respective countries.

The project, which will be undertaken in close cooperation with Partner States, will contribute to the implementation of the EAC COVID-19 Response Plan (2020), the IOM COVID-19 Strategic Response and Recovery Plan launched in April 2021 and health relevant regional plans. It will also contribute to the achievement of the WHO WASH Strategy and the regional IOM migration strategy for the East and Horn of Africa addressing the health component.

“The collaboration with EAC is placed within a memorandum of understanding between IOM and EAC and aims at improve migration management in the region,” said IOM’s Regional Director for East and Horn of Africa Mohammed Abdiker.

Preparations started in June 2021 in close collaboration between EAC and IOM at regional and country level and in July the team started collecting baseline data from households, Points of Entry and health facilities along selected borders and communities to guide field operation. The construction of the handwashing facilities and the health and hygiene awareness campaign will start in late August 2021. The project runs until December 2021 and the final completion report will be ready by January 2022.

Funds for the Programme have been provided by the German Government through the Support to Pandemic Preparedness (PanPrep) project, which is implemented through the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.

The East African Community (EAC) region has experienced communicable, and water borne diseases outbreaks in the past and is still at risk of future ones. In addition to the COVID 19 global pandemic, the EAC has experienced other preventable outbreaks including Cholera, Measles, Rift Valley Fever (RVF), Yellow Fever, Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) and E. Coli infections over the past five years alone. Due to the high human mobility in the region, the communities at the borders and along the transport corridors are continuously exposed to communicable diseases.

Find more information on PanPrep here.