ARUA. Water Mission Uganda has donated 215 water station facilities for South Sudan refugees in Rhino Camp and Imvepi settlements in a bid to promote cleanliness so as to fight Covid-19.

As one of the measures to control the spread of coronavirus, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends regular hand washing.

But the refugees in West Nile remain vulnerable to contracting the deadly virus which has so far killed thousands of people across the globe for relying on few water points and with inadequate hand washing facilities in their homes.

As a result, Water Mission over the weekend, launched the distribution of water stations to the two settlements in order to avert any outbreak of the pandemic.

During the distribution exercise, Mr Samuel Bidal, the refugee welfare committee secretary told West Nile Web that: “We still have the challenge of access to water sources. And most families do not have proper hand washing taps. So, this will relieve us and some of the health centers where they will be stationed and ensure proper hygiene of the patients and attendants in the health centers.”

“With the current situation of Covid-19, we need to strengthen hand washing and general hygiene in the communities. So, these water taps will be stationed in health centers, at water points, markets, police posts and other areas where people gather especially for meetings,” Mr Samuel Apire, the Wash team leader for Arua and Kiryadongo settlements said.

He added that besides the distribution of the water stations, they are also educating both the host communities and refugees to practice social distancing especially at borehole points.

Imvepi has about 65,000 South Sudan refugees while Rhino Camp has over 120,000 refugees. The distribution will therefore help the refugees as the onus remains on each individual at household level to set up hand washing points.

With the high population, danger still looms especially at water points where there is crowding of those fetching water.

It is for this reason that 200 crowd controllers have been recruited by Water Mission to ensure social distancing at water points in the two settlements.

The refugee desk officer in the office of Prime Minister in Arua, Mr Solomon Osakan said there was need for other partners to compliment the contribution of Water Mission.

“The number of refugees is big and these water points will at least help but we need more so that many people can access handwashing points. This is a virus that may stay with us like HIV/AIDs. We need to plan not only for short term but a long one,” he said.

Ms Alice Akello, the acting Madi Okollo resident district commissioner said: “Hand washing culture has to change because some people are still hesitant to washing their hands always. We should sensitize the communities more on this because it is one of the ways of stopping infections. And we need to put them into proper use and not divert the water stations for personal use.”

Due to the need for water, the Mission has constructed 10,460 Kms of pipeline extensions to Omugo VI, Eden I, Omugo IV and Tika I settlements. Water Mission has also made a similar distribution of water stations to the refugees in Kiryadongo.

refugeSome of the refugees fetching water at Ofua settlement in Rhino Camp. PHOTO BY ANDREW COHEN AMVESI