Wed, 15 Jul 2020

Community volunteers put up tippy-taps at Havana informal settlement in Moses Garoeb Constituency in Windhoek, Namibia, on May 29, 2020. (Xinhua/Ndalimpinga Iita)

As a way to enhance safety measures against COVID-19, volunteers are setting up tippy-taps to boost hygiene in efforts to fight against COVID-19 in Namibia's informal settlements where running water is rare.

by Ndalimpinga Iita

WINDHOEK, June 1 (Xinhua) -- At a dwelling in Havana informal settlement in Moses Garoeb Constituency in Namibia's capital Windhoek, Fillipus Shambwangala was setting up tippy-taps made out of thin copper metals on which a reusable plastic bottle with water and soap hangs.

For the release of water, a foot lever was also being set up.

Shambwangala is one of the community health volunteers for the COVID-19 Emergency Response Unit, jointly spearheaded by the Moses Garoeb Constituency Council and the Development Workshop, a non-profit organization.

"I do this out of passion and love for our people. I want to play my part in curbing the spread of COVID-19 and save lives," said Shambwangala.

As Namibia battles with the rapid spread of COVID-19, community health volunteers are helping communities prevent the spread of the virus.

The volunteers also underwent comprehensive training to ensure that they provide factual information regarding state regulations and provisions such as wearing masks, sanitizing and social distancing.

The aim, said David Nakanue, an assistant leader at the Development Workshop, is to reduce the chances of infection in the city as the country battles the COVID-19 pandemic.

Community volunteers put up tippy-taps at Havana informal settlement in Moses Garoeb Constituency in Windhoek, Namibia, on May 29, 2020. (Xinhua/Ndalimpinga Iita)

Namibia announced its two first cases of COVID-19 on March 14. The country has since recorded 24 cases, of which 14 cases have recovered.

According to Nakanue, the community volunteers in each constituency set up at least 100 tippy-taps every day in four constituencies with mushrooming informal settlements that were plagued by unhygienic conditions.

To complement prevention devices, the volunteers also educate the community about COVID-19 and distribute materials with facts on COVID-19.

The efforts have been instrumental in promoting hygiene and safety measures, in line with regulations set by the government.

Foibe Silvanus, a coordinator in the Moses Garoeb Constituency, said that under the COVID-19 Emergency Response Unit, more than 10,000 tippy taps have so far been set up in four constituencies.

The project also provides the community members with a two-liter bottle of soap upon setting up each tippy tap.

"Handwashing is critical in curbing the spread of COVID-19 as well as Hepatitis E. The tippy taps are thus the best solution as most people in the informal settlements do not have access to running water. The impact has been incredible," Silvanus said.

A child was washing hands by the tippy-tap at Havana informal settlement in Moses Garoeb Constituency in Windhoek, Namibia, on May 29, 2020. (Xinhua/Ndalimpinga Iita)

Meanwhile, the provision of tippy taps in the area are promoting good hygiene practices and public health. Thomas Shilongo, a dweller in the Havana informal settlement, said that the tippy taps promote hygiene in the area.

"I am happy to receive the tippy tap. I do not have access to running water. But I will be able to refill this bottle and add soap. This makes my life easier. I also know my family is safer," Shilongo said.

But the efforts are not without challenges. According to Nakanue, affordability of soap is also a challenge. "Once the soap we give on the onset finishes, some community members are finding it difficult to purchase more soap."

"Some people also steal parts of the items at night, especially the metallic poles. Theft is rife in that respect. We have since advised the community members to safeguard the tippy taps," said Nakanue.

But, he said, they are not discouraged. In the interim, he said the goal is more significant than the challenges.

"The aim is to reach everyone, to save lives and promote good public health," he said. ■

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