Emergency WASH Fund FAQs

What is currently happening in East Africa with the coronavirus?

The cases of COVID-19 in Africa have been forecasted at anywhere from 300,000 to millions of deaths. Many official sources report that the pandemic will hit the African continent the hardest due to the lack of medical infrastructure and difficulties in tracking. The WHO, as well as the government of Kenya, maintain that proper WASH training is the best defense against the spread of coronavirus in rural African communities.

What is the WASH Response and why are you doing it?

The WASH Response is Well Aware’s way of helping reduce the spread of COVID-19 in East Africa. WASH is an acronym used in the water sector that means Water, Sanitation, & Hygiene (most commonly used in efforts to educate about Sanitation and Hygiene). In rural areas, the spread of information is very slow, and access to vital tools, such as handwashing stations and soap, is very limited. So, Well Aware is partnering with Well Beyond to distribute vital information and tools to our partner communities to ensure communities are better equipped to handle the aggressive spread of COVID-19 in these regions. This critical information will be delivered via an interactive mobile app and will help local leaders and community stakeholders leverage existing resources within their communities.

Why do communities need sanitation & hygiene support?

Sanitation and Hygiene measures that may seem like common knowledge to many of us (for example: washing hands after defecation) is often not practiced in remote areas of East Africa. Water can be scarce, soap can be expensive and unavailable, and the lack of understanding of the importance of thorough sanitation and hygiene practices all play a factor. We’ve been implementing basic WASH training within our communities for years, but the way we’re doing this now, is very different. COVID-19 is changing everything. And, as the times change and evolve, so must our training techniques. Which is why, now more than ever, coronavirus-specific sanitation and hygiene training is critical. According to the WHO, proper training in WASH can reduce illness up to 64%.

Do people own smartphones in rural East Africa? Why is a mobile app the solution?

Yes, they do! 34% of Kenyans between the ages of 18 and 34 own a smartphone, and most local leaders in our partner communities have access to mobile technology. Even more, in Africa, only 63% of people have access to piped water, yet 93% have a mobile phone. Leveraging the prevalence of this technology will allow us to quickly deploy our tool virtually while also tracking use and engagement with the app in our partner communities, as well as providing on-going chat support and updates.

What is the App Teaching?

The content in our tool is a comprehensive aggregation of the most current and applicable information available from leading WASH experts.. Some of the lessons include how to make soap from the most basic ingredients, how to (and when to) properly wash hands, DIY hand washing stations, DIY facemasks, how to reach additional, local COVID support and services, and much more. The app guides community members through each module and instructions for DIY tools include the use of resources and supplies that are already available right where they are.

What is the Emergency WASH Fund?

The Emergency WASH Fund is a campaign dedicated solely to our emergency response initiative. We need to raise $150,000 in order to distribute this vital hygiene and sanitation tool to Well Aware’s partner communities in East Africa (across more than 70 projects). Reaching our goal will enable us to further equip and protect the 270,000+ people we’ve provided clean water to since 2010. The funds raised will enable our Kenya-based staff to deploy this life-saving solution to our partner communities and provide real-time chat support for local leaders and community members.

How can I support Well Aware at this time?

We’re so happy you want to help! There are a few different options for getting involved:

  1. Make a donation to our Emergency WASH Fund. Every dollar will make a difference!

  2. If you would like to fundraise for us, you can sign up to become a #WashAware Advocate. We’ll send you tips on how to fundraise and ways you can amplify your impact.

Spread the word to friends and family through social media posts, emailing your network, and more. You can utilize templates in our toolkit here!

What is the #WashAware Challenge & how can I participate?

This challenge is designed to help build awareness around our current pivot in programs and to accelerate donations to our Emergency WASH Fund.

The punny challenge will be to post on social media about "Water you washing (or not washing)."

Example: “WATER YOU washing? Today, I’m washing _______ in honor of Well Aware’s #WashAware Challenge. They’re working hard to help communities in East Africa prevent the spread of COVID-19 through vital sanitation and hygiene tools. Can you imagine not having a sink or soap to help you wash? They're helping fix that. I donated to @wellawareworld’s WASH Fund which is helping people in East Africa combat COVID-19. I challenge 3 friends: @__. @, & @___ to donate and share “WATER YOU washing?” to help spread awareness. wellawareworld.org/wash-fund #WashAware”

See more examples and information about how you can join the #WashAware Challenge in the document here.

Is the Well Aware team physically visiting communities to help?

No. Our Kenya team is unable to travel outside of Nairobi due to local lockdowns and curfews, and we don’t want to risk spreading COVID-19 to these vulnerable populations. This is why we are using the WellBeyond App to quickly deliver vital and the most up-to-date information to our partner communities. However, our Kenya-based Well Aware staff is “on-call” for real-time chat support with our communities as we deploy this tool and information.

When and how will communities get this technology?

Well Aware communities have already begun to receive access to the app starting in early June 2020. We are now launching a tiered rollout of the tool to ensure the Well Beyond team can rapidly accommodate improvements and updates needed for this brand new technology. The data collection, technology upgrades, and remote chat support will then continue to be implemented and improved for as long as needed to ensure the most people possible in our partner communities receive this vital information.

Are you currently implementing new water projects? If not, when will this begin again?

Well Aware is not able to implement any new water projects at this time due to travel bans and a general concern for both the safety of our team and the communities with whom we partner. We will monitor the COVID-19 crisis closely in both the United States as well as East Africa and will resume our normal projects work once we know we are not putting our East Africa team, our U.S. team, or any members of our communities at risk. In the meantime, we are working tirelessly to build up our resources and capacity so that we can scale our water projects quickly and successfully, as soon as it is safe to do so.

How will Well Aware know this project is helping?

Well Aware will be tracking all real-time interaction with the app (from the users in communities), and utilizing a chat support dialogue to directly communicate with local leaders and community members. Well Aware will be able to report on metrics as data is aggregated over the coming weeks including, but not limited to: a) most commonly asked questions from community members, b) increases and decreases in patients treated in communities, c) number of trainings completed and number of people participating in trainings, d) time spent in training modules, and e) testing on the knowledge gained from each module for each trainee.

What happens next, after the WASH project?

With so many uncertainties in our regions of work, there is not a clear answer at this time. What we do know is that we will continue supporting our partner communities in any way that we can. Our goal right now is to help them make it through the COVID-19 crisis as best they can, and, as soon as we are able, we will get back to work bringing clean water to more communities in need, just as we have over the past ten years.