Over the last year, WSUP with the support of the Hygiene & Behaviour Change Coalition (HBCC) – a UK government and Unilever initiative – delivered a rapid customer focused communication hygiene campaign, to combat the spread of Covid-19 in some of the most vulnerable communities in Ghana and Kenya.
Implemented across 10 cities, WSUP’s response aimed at building urban resilience through improved hygiene related practices among low-income and vulnerable populations and increasing the capacity of institutions and service providers responding to the pandemic.
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WSUP and its partners implemented a broad range of tactics to raise awareness of Covid-19, improve hygiene behaviours and keep infection rates as low as possible.
Promoting hygiene messaging
Complementing the efforts of the government health services in both countries, a variety of messages were delivered to around 17 million residents.
The messages covered issues of prevention, protection, safety, security and where to seek early support when showing signs and symptoms of Covid-19. These were delivered through social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and via influencers, bulk SMS text messaging, local radio and TV stations, posters and out-of-home banners, water and sanitation utility websites and local door-to-door campaigns supported by community health professionals.
Distributing hygiene materials and handwashing facilities, and hygiene training
Over 280,000 WASH products such as Lifebuoy soaps, hand sanitisers and face masks were distributed to school children, healthcare workers, environment health officers, utility frontline staff, the elderly, as well as people with disabilities.
650 handwashing stations were installed in several market centres, lorry stations, schools, religious institutions and health facilities.
A number of community-based organisations, local leaders and school staff were trained on approaches such as Unilever’s School of 5 and Mum’s Magic Hands which were then rolled out in various locations and schools.
Working with water utilities
Building on our unique relationship with utilities, we were able to support seven utilities to undertake awareness-raising activities to their customers. Websites for the collaborating utilities were revamped and their e-service platforms upgraded to incorporate Covid-19 messages that could easily be accessed by their customers remotely.
Water utilities used bulk messaging to engage with their customers on Covid-19 prevention information. This included messaging on social distance payment options, water access through reporting of leaks and bursts, and handwashing. A total of six bulk messages were shared with utility customers during the campaign period and this continued across the utilities through integration of the Covid-19 messages into the monthly bills.
WSUP regularly met with various organisations and associations for persons with disabilities to ensure their needs were met. Communication materials were adapted to formats that were accessible for different groups. Nearly half of the handwashing stations that were installed in communities, were designed to be accessible.
Alongside these immediate measures, WSUP is also focusing on the long-term availability of water supplies, particularly for the poorest in cities. This includes strengthening utilities and encouraging service providers to work with communities to improve water access.
Given the low rates of vaccinations in many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, promoting good hygiene practices remains incredibly important. The simple act of handwashing with soap can reduce the spread of the virus, prevent future pandemics, and save countless lives.
Find out more about our Covid-19 response
Top image: Distribution of hygiene materials in Kumasi, Ghana. Image credit: Paul Obeng