EMBARGOED until Monday, 30th May 2022 at 11 am EAT
Clean water oils the wheels of East African trade
To help prevent diseases such as COVID-19 from spreading between countries, WaterAid has been setting up sanitation blocks with partners at busy border crossings in East Africa. The projects will help protect landlocked countries which rely on these crossings for free movement of people and goods.
The latest one will be launched this week at the hectic Busia border crossing between Kenya and Uganda, where truck drivers, their teams and traders can now benefit from expanded hygiene facilities.
On Tuesday (May 31), WaterAid and the Kenya Water and Sanitation Civil Society Network (KEWASNET) will officially hand over the completed Busia cross-border water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) project to the authorities and immigration services under the supervision of Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) who have the responsibility for continued sustainability and maintenance of the facility as agreed with the partners.
This border is a vital trading route that processes approximately 14,000 people, (travelers, workers and traders) and 7,000 trucks weekly.
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when cross-border infections were a much bigger threat and a contributor to the spread of the virus, WaterAid and KEWASNET responded by providing permanent handwashing facilities. Now, in recognition of the long-term benefits of containing COVID-19 and many other infectious diseases, the sanitation block has been equipped with toilets, showers, a changing space for caregivers to babies and a storage room to store cleaning equipment and WASH supplies.
The project is part of WaterAid’s efforts in building back better towards a post COVID-19 world through strategic partnerships with the East African Community and Civil Society Networks across East African countries, towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal 6, which commits to providing access to clean water and sanitation for all by 2030.
Omar Mubarak, a truck driver at Busia border said: “Before this project, we used to have personal sanitisers, and sometimes you would forget to carry them as you are crossing the border. Now with the handwashing facility, you can wash your hands there and then without worrying.”
Speaking ahead of the launch, Olutayo Bankole-Bolawole, WaterAid East Africa’s Regional Director said: “Pandemics have come to stay with us, it is how we manage them that matters. Effective WASH in emergencies needs a holistic approach. Whereas phase one focused on construction of permanent handwashing facilities at Busia border, during the second phase, we expanded the project to include gender inclusive and disability friendly sanitation blocks with a total of eight bathrooms, 16 toilets and a changing space for caregivers to babies.”
Vincent Ouma, the Head of Programs at KEWASNET, said: “Healthy people trade better. Ideally at KEWASNET, we hope that this intervention will be sustained beyond the COVID-19 pandemic to tackle other sanitation and hygiene related illnesses and improve the health and economic outcomes of Busia border. Our region’s borders are critical to the economy and so is the health of the business community.”
Evidence of the economic benefits of the provision of clean water and sanitation has been provided in research by Vivid Economics and WaterAid. It showed that by simply ensuring everyone has somewhere to wash their hands with soap and clean water, productivity increases, and billions of dollars in economic returns can be unlocked.
Each dollar invested in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) could generate up to a $21 USD return. According to the report, the global economy could generate up to $45 billion USD per year and reduce the spread of infections in a COVID-19-like epidemic by up to 20%.
WaterAid also set out its projected timetable for the provision of water and sanitation services at other border crossings around the region:
- Malaba border (Kenya/Uganda)- phase 1 launched, phase 2 set to launch in June 2022;
- Rusizi (Rwanda/DRC) – June 2022. It will expand WaterAid’s footprint through communities living around the border in DRC.
- Vurra border (Uganda/DRC) – phase 1 launched, phase 2 is yet to be launched. It will expand WaterAid’s footprint through communities living around the border in DRC.
- Horohoro border (Tanzania/Kenya) – launched April 2022;
- Lungalunga (Kenya/Tanzania – launched April 2022;
- Holili border (Tanzania/Kenya) – phase 1 launched in 2021 and phase 2 launched in April 2022;
- Nemba border (Rwanda/Burundi) – launched in 2021 * It reaches returning refugees and expands WaterAid’s footprint through communities living around the border in Burundi.
For more information, please contact:
Elizabeth Mwambulukutu, East Africa Regional Communications Manager, WaterAid email@example.com
Notes to Editors:
WaterAid is working to make clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene normal for everyone, everywhere within a generation. The international not-for-profit organisation works in 28 countries to change the lives of the poorest and most marginalised people. Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 26.4 million people with clean water and 26.3 million people with decent toilets. In East Africa, WaterAid has country programmes in Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.
The Kenya Water and Sanitation CSOs Network (KEWASNET) is a national membership organization formed in 2007 consisting of a Civil Society Organization working in the WASH sector. The overall purpose of KEWASNET is to influence the policy environment to ensure Kenyans have access to affordable and safe water and sanitation services in a sustainable context. The network is a voice for the majority of Kenya’s voiceless citizens who on an ongoing basis, survive without adequate water and sanitation services.
Broadly, KEWASNET provides a linkage between service providers and consumers by facilitating partnerships between policymakers and stakeholders and encouraging equitable participation by all parties in governance and decision-making mechanisms.