To help slow the spread of Covid-19, the US government has contributed $500 000, which equates to about R8.6-million, to nonprofit organisation United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (Unicef) to build handwashing stations in vulnerable communities and informal settlements across South Africa.
Handwashing with soap remains one of the most effective preventive actions to curb the spread of the virus.
Unicef notes that nearly one-third of households in South Africa do not have access to adequate handwashing facilities.
To help address this critical need, the US, through the US Agency for International Development (USAID), has committed the funds to build much-needed handwashing stations within public spaces, such as healthcare facilities, schools, transport hubs and markets, in communities that lack access to running water.
Construction of the handwashing stations began on June 8 in Alexandra township in northern Johannesburg, with the goal to build similar stations in 150 locations across the country by the end of August.
In addition to further installations in Alexandra and six more handwashing stations in the Hammanskraal area, installations have been completed in the Northern Cape, the North West province and KwaZulu-Natal.
Plans are already under way for additional stations in the Western Cape, Free State, Gauteng and the Eastern Cape.
Unicef is working with partners Envirosan and World Vision South Africa on the installations and is engaging with communities in the areas to share lifesaving information and messaging on how best to keep children, families and communities safe.
Unicef is a member of the WASH Technical Team, which reports to the Covid-19 National Water and Sanitation Command Centre. Through this mechanism, local municipalities under the direction of the Department of Water and Sanitation identify the sites in under-served communities and commit to maintaining the water and soap supplies.
Unicef involves local ward counsellors in the handover to help build local ownership and to secure protection of the stations.
Through an All-of-America approach, the US is providing lifesaving support by coordinating with the government of South Africa and other stakeholders to identify priority areas for investment.