HEINEKEN Africa Foundation and WaterAid have announced a new €1.125 million partnership centered around pandemic preparedness, focusing on handwashing facilities in five countries, as an important line of defence against the spread of disease and future pandemics.
The partnership follows the organisations’ joint COVID-19 response programme, which reached more than 37 million people across Nigeria, South Africa, Rwanda, Mozambique and Ethiopia.
Since 2020 the Foundation has donated €2.8 million to the international charity, supporting its emergency response work to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in vulnerable communities in sub-Saharan Africa.
This included reaching over 37 million people with crucial hygiene messages spread via TV, radio and print campaigns, as well as installing over 1400 handwashing stations in markets, schools and health centres, reaching 1.7 million people. 1800 people were also trained in promoting hygiene behaviour change and 108,000 were reached with access to clean water.
Frequent handwashing with soap reduces the spread of coronaviruses (flu-like illnesses) by around a third (36%) . But today 2.3 billion people in the world – almost one in three – lack soap and water for proper handwashing at home . Even in public spaces the problem persists. One in three healthcare facilities do not have adequate amenities to clean hands where care is provided , and 43% of schools do not have soap and water for handwashing .
One of the healthcare facilities reached by the previous programme was the Ricatla Health Centre, in Marracuene, Maputo Province, Mozambique. Nurse Ecineta Marta, who works at the centre, said:
“The handwashing facility is very important because it helps us to wash our hands and prevent various diseases, including COVID-19. With the handwashing facility installed, healthcare professionals, as well as service users, feel safer and comfortable when they are in this health unit. As we know, handwashing is considered as the first-line measure for COVID-19 prevention”.
As the Foundation and WaterAid enter the next phase of their partnership, the focus will shift to sustaining hygiene behaviours far beyond the COVID-19 outbreak. Together they will help to reduce the spread of other diseases, developing sustainable handwashing facilities and building more water points to support community access to water.
Suzanne Giele, HEINEKEN Africa Foundation Manager, said:
“At the HEIENKEN Africa Foundation we’ve been funding water and health projects since 2007, and we are proud to now be committing a further €1.125 million as we enter this new phase of our partnership with WaterAid. Having already reached 37 million people in Ethiopia, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda and South Africa through our COVID-19 response work, we know the huge potential that partnerships like ours can have, and we look forward to continuing this work.”
Tim Wainwright, WaterAid Chief Executive in the UK, said:
”COVID-19 drew a terrible, deep scar across the globe, but it also presented us with an opportunity to come together and support people through the outbreak. The success and far-reaching impact of our partnership with the HEINEKEN Africa Foundation at the pandemic’s peak highlights the difference we can make to communities and lives around the world.
“Following this success, I am thrilled that we are continuing the partnership and building on the initial COVID-19 relief plan, to ensure we are creating long term, systemic change for communities in five countries. Partnerships such as this show the vital need of working together for the biggest impact, so we can really transform lives and ensure everyone has the essential access they need for health and hygiene.”