By Michael Arunga, Emergency Communications Specialist, World Vision Mali
Bamako, 21.3.2020 Water, a basic human need, will be the global focus on World Water Day tomorrow, when hygiene practices, especially hand-washing remain high on the global agenda due to coronavirus.
As the world commemorates this basic human need, a day before observance of the UN designated World Water Day, Mali has still not recorded a single coronavirus case. This, despite, the global hype over the contagious disease, that is spreading like bushfire across Africa and forcing many into ‘lock-downs’. Is Mali a case of poor diagnostic facilities or successful water, sanitation and hygiene interventions by organisations such as World Vision, whose work is now paying off?
Even before coronavirus emerged, hygiene interventions had been rolled out. Numerous successful water and sanitation projects have successfully been completed, evaluated, with clear results. They include a World Vision Mali water and hygiene project that was funded by Charity Water.
The 2018 Annual Report shows that World Vision Mali enabled 138,700 beneficiaries have access to water of which 68,250 have access through taps, sunk 112 new boreholes, availed 83 manual pumps, 20 water supply systems and installed 125 hand-washing stations.
The report further reveals that World Vision also invested in hygiene skills training, with 57,336 people educated in water treatment at home.
“The interventions being currently advocated to curb the coronavirus pandemic are not new to our organisation. Water, Sanitation and Hygiene are key focus areas for World Vision in Mali,” World Vision Mali’s new National Director, Patrick Daniere says.
The National Director describes World Vision’s work in Mali as crucial in combating and defeating the virus, saving the lives of thousands of vulnerable children who are threatened by the pandemic.
His sentiments are reflective of the 2018 Annual Report, which shows a wide spectrum of the population that include children and IDPs benefiting from WASH development interventions. Over 13,600 pupils and 464 teachers in 75 schools, were reached by WASH activities in World Vision Mali Area Programmes (APs), as well as its humanitarian response areas.
With numbers of people who have tested positive to the coronavirus soaring daily to triple digits in some African countries, it is reassuring that Mali, with all its challenges, still has no case detected. Like other countries, the Malian government has instituted a raft of directives, that complement World Vision’s interventions, to help stall spread of the disease that threatens to spiral out of control.
The Malian government’s efforts are not in isolation. World Vision has 33 APs and a raft of interventions that include supporting 78,922 Registered Children (RCs) and their communities. The RCs are being catered for to help sustain their well-being.
In Fiscal Year 2018, World Vision Mali had a total budget of US$ 30,056,932 million, which comprised of US$11, 13,740,970 (Sponsorship funds), US$ 9,983,577 (Private and Non Sponsorship), US$ 6,121,806 (Multilateral) and US$ 210,578 (Government support).
Faced with a fragile context, coupled with increased insecurity, implementing these interventions is challenging. Conflicts have steadily spread from the north into central Mali, in most areas where World Vision has a presence.
Despite these insecurity challenges, World Vision continues reaching the most vulnerable people, especially affected children. The life-saving interventions include availing clean water and improving hygiene standards.
With thousands of internally displaced people (IDP) and refugees from Burkina and Niger in camps and host communities, the critical question is whether the coronavirus numbers within Mali will remain zero, even as World Water Day is commemorated globally.
The answer to this question is dependent on support from donors willing to fund organisations whose tangible prevention interventions can vividly be seen.