By Liya Assefa, Associate, Programs
The END Fund has worked in Angola alongside the MENTOR Initiative since 2012, providing technical assistance to the National NTD Program at the Angolan Ministry of Health. Angola had its first suspected cases of COVID-19 in January 2020, with confirmed cases initially identified in late March. Subsequently, a state of emergency was declared and recently extended until late May with a possibility for further extension. Overall, the government of Angola has been proactive in its national COVID-19 response.
Through the MENTOR Initiative, as part of our work to end neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) we support over 700 schools in the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) WASH program, with a focus on increasing handwashing to help break the parasite transmission cycle. However, reliable access to water and handwashing stations is difficult in various parts of Angola, making handwashing a challenge both in schools and in communities. This presents a barrier not only to the WASH program’s impact but also to COVID-19 prevention efforts, which center on the importance of handwashing.
In line with the END Fund’s COVID-19 Response Fund priority investment areas, we had the opportunity to support the MENTOR Initiative in their collaboration with the government to provide tippy taps in Huambo province.
In March, the Governor of Huambo and the Chief of Education requested that MENTOR’s WASH program support the province’s pandemic response through the installation of tippy taps outside of Huambo’s health facilities. This request came after years of MENTOR and Huambo’s provincial government strengthening their relationship through the WASH program. In Huambo, the provincial government has taken on a leadership role to mainstream this program throughout all schools in the province. They have also sought to leverage the technical expertise of MENTOR, and in this instance, wanted to adapt the existing WASH program from schools to the hospital setting. The collaboration between the provincial government and MENTOR led to the donation and installation of 33 fully-equipped tippy taps at the entrances and exits of 15 hospitals, health centers, and elderly care facilities across 11 municipalities of Huambo, with soap and water provided by the government. MENTOR was also granted the use of state TV and radio to promote the tippy tap installations, which included demonstrations that aired on local TV.
The WASH program in Angola has developed a significant presence across the END Fund-supported provinces since its inception, uniquely positioning the MENTOR Initiative and the END Fund to provide support to Huambo in this way. We will continue to assess how we can best support the work of our current implementing partners like MENTOR in their ongoing COVID-19 response efforts.