Huguette Yago is in charge of ensuring that 3,500 displaced individuals at the Pissila camp in Burkina Faso’s north-central region have access to water and sanitation facilities, as well as conducting hygiene education sessions.
She’s up against a mountainous obstacle in the face of the escalating COVID-19 pandemic: a scarcity of water. She is adamant: “There is no cleanliness without water.”
The destruction of communities in the east and north of the nation by armed groups has resulted in the displacement of over 800,000 people in the last year.
Many of them have migrated to cities or IDP camps where overcrowding and water shortages are major issues for communities and families.
Oxfam’s local partner in Burkina Faso, the Association of Environmental Development and Management (AGED), is doing everything it can to support the displaced and stop the spread of the virus.
Even while it’s all good advice, it doesn’t work for people like Huguette, who leads a team that educates displaced persons about hygienic measures, since they don’t have the resources to implement it in their daily lives despite the advice of the World Health Organization and Ministry of Health.
“They say they know of the sickness, but they are unable to comply with these procedures because they do not have enough water to wash their hands multiple times a day. It’s also not enough to last them an entire month with the 400g of soap they get each month. So, how are they supposed to keep up with the daily ritual of hand washing?”
When it comes to social disengagement, the issue is much more terrible because the shelters are meant to welcome a maximum of 7 individuals but the reality is completely different: “We have 15 to 20 people each shelter.”
As a lifelong humanitarian, Huguette says she has now found her place in this world. However, the current health crisis has been exacerbated by the entrance of this pandemic, which has made the situation much more severe.
It’s our duty to aid and keep people safe, but we don’t have the means to do so. Drilling for water should take place near the locations or at the very least, water should really be trucked in from elsewhere. “Health is priceless, yet it costs enormous amounts of money to provide it.”
Huguette and her colleagues don’t give up despite their low resources and organise themselves to satisfy the displaced people’s water, hygiene, and sanitation demands.
“Everyone understands exactly what they’re supposed to be doing. We hold three education sessions a week, and when we aren’t around, the hygiene committee, which is made up of volunteers, steps in. To those who don’t have access to soap, we explain that they can wash their hands with ash.
Clean water, sanitation, and hygiene supplies have been provided by Oxfam and AGED to the region’s internally displaced and host populations. In Burkina Faso, where 287,000 people lack access to clean water, we require more resources than ever before.
If fresh newcomers continue to arrive at the IDP camps where we work, it is just a question of time until we see coronavirus infections. By guaranteeing that managers are well-informed on WHO guidelines so that they may teach their peers, Huguette believes it is critical to avoid the spread of the disease.
This will stop the infection from spreading to these locations if the hygiene precautions are followed, she explained.