If there was ever a time when people accepted the importance of handwashing using soap, it has to be 2020. Most especially in Somalia, apart from the COVID-19 pandemic, the region has also grappled with flooding. According to UNOCHA the floods forced at least 167,000 people into displacement camps with little to no clean water, increasing the risk of AWD/Cholera outbreaks. Since the beginning of this year, the cumulative total number of suspected cholera cases in Somalia has been 5925, including 31 associated deaths, according to the Ministry of Health Somalia. At the same time, COVID-19 infections have been 3,941, with 104 related deaths.
Handwashing with soap is among the most effective and inexpensive ways to prevent these diseases. The world commemorated the Global Handwashing Day on 15 October 2020, with this year’s theme being Hand hygiene for all, calling for all of society to achieve universal hand hygiene and focusing on the importance of handwashing equity.
As part of the Global Hand Washing Day campaign, NAPAD, NORWEGIAN CHURCH AID, GERMAN FEDERAL FOREIGN OFFICE AND MEDICO INTERNATIONAL focused on increasing community awareness on the importance of handwashing with soap to improve hygiene practices especially among young children. With support from these partners, NAPAD conducted two handwashing campaigns simultaneously in Abudwak and Dollow Somalia.
In Dollow Somalia, our team conducted hygiene awareness campaigns in Dayah village. The activities facilitated by NAPAD and NORWEGIAN CHURCH AID saw 80 community elders, women groups, religious leaders, and students discuss the importance of hygiene, which all starts by cleaning one’s hands properly to stop the spread of germs and illness and particularly in this COVID-19 pandemic period. Activities included training through modules and demonstrations focused on washing hands, washing them effectively, and the prevention methods of COVID-19. All 80 participants pledged to maintain hygiene practices through handwashing with soap and water. Each participant received a t-shirt, pamphlets on proper hand hygiene, and soap bars, supporting their continued practices on effective handwashing.
In Abudwak, thanks to GERMAN FEDERAL FOREIGN OFFICE AND MEDICO INTERNATIONAL, the event held at Ayatin Primary attracted approximately 160 attendees—including students, parents, and teachers. The celebration emphasized the importance of handwashing to prevent diseases, the necessity of using soap instead of only water, how everyone’s health can benefit from washing their hands, and the critical times for hand washing, including before and after eating and after visiting the toilet. Additionally, handwashing soap and handwashing facilities were given to the school. The intention was to stretch past raising awareness and promote behavior change—making handwashing less of an unfamiliar, daunting task and more of an essential behavior at critical points of the day, particularly among children. They are the most significant change agents in society.