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US group works to slow spread of COVID-19 in Africa

April 28, 2020

April 28, 2020 — As COVID-19 moves to parts of the world with few tools to stop it, an Austin, Texas based non-profit is joining the fight to slow the spread. Well Aware, the technology-driven water philanthropy with unparalleled success in East Africa, is now using its just-released clean water app to support communities struggling to stop the coronavirus.

“When we had to stop our water system construction due to lockdowns, we realized the technology we already had in development could save lives in a new way. The communities we work with in East Africa may not have sinks, soap, and medical infrastructure, but 34% of young adults in Kenya do own a smartphone,” said Well Aware’s founder Sarah Evans. “We can use those smartphones to train and guide these communities to better protect them from the spread of the coronavirus - even in the most vulnerable places.”

This life-saving mobile technology deploys interactive WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) training. It will fill the gap between sanitation recommendations and the tools and knowledge available in often remote, rural places by providing vital sanitation training, guidance on creating DIY soap and handwashing stations, real-time chat support, and other tools to help communities prevent the spread of COVID-19. At the same time, Well Aware and community leaders in Africa will be able to track training completions and collect data on the solution's success. This will allow Well Aware to better measure impact as well as communicate with community leaders to ensure results.

This month, the UN Economic Commission for Africa projected more than 300,000 Africans could lose their lives due to COVID-19. East African governments, in alignment with the WHO, emphasize that basic preventative measures by individuals and communities remain the most powerful tool to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but delivering this critical information has been a challenge. Well Aware will now use their expertise in partnership with technology developed by social enterprise company, Well Beyond, in communities where it has already installed water systems. The Emergency WASH Fund has been launched in order to make it happen: https://wellawareworld.org/wash-response.

“Governments can’t allow us to be there in person to work with the 270,000 people we currently work with and more, but interacting live through and constantly updating the WASH app will allow Well Aware staff in Kenya and the US to bridge the divide between what sanitary guidelines say to do and physical tools and knowledge the communities have. To put this in perspective, this isn’t about teaching people to wash their hands long enough, it’s about building the sink and making the soap to do it with,” said Evans.

Well Aware Information: Well Aware is a U.S.-based 501(c)3 nonprofit with headquarters in Austin, Texas. They have been providing sustainable clean water systems to remote communities in East Africa for over 10 years, all while maintaining a 100% success rate across their 70+ projects (the average industry success rate is 40%). Well Aware has provided lasting clean water to more than a quarter of a million people since 2010, is a top-ranking charity on GuideStar, and has received national accolades for their international development approach.

About Founder Sarah Evans: Sarah Evans is the Founder and CEO of Well Beyond, a consulting and SaaS firm for rural water supply projects, as well as the Founder and Chair of Well Aware, a nonprofit that has funded and implemented clean water systems for impoverished communities in Africa and beyond for the past decade. Evans is a Toyota Mother of Invention, a Chamber of Commerce Blazing Star Award recipient, and a member of Forbes Nonprofit Council. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, Forbes, People.com, Parent Magazine, MariaShriver.com, USA Today, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, and other outlets. She is a contributing author for Forbes, Water Quality Products, and Wandering Educator.

Media Contact: Erinn Wright Director of Development, Well Aware erinn@wellawareworld.org (214) 766-6366