Together in the fight against Covid-19
Brief background about
MERCY Corps is an international Non-Governmental Organisation head-quartered in Portland, Oregon, in the United States of America. Mercy Corps is a global team of humanitarians, working together on the front-lines of today’s biggest crises to create a future of possibility where everyone can prosper. Mercy Corps is a registered charity organisation that has been operating in Zimbabwe for more than 30 years. The organisation has been operating in Manicaland for more than 10 years with projects in livelihoods, agriculture, protection and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH).
Mercy Corps is the Provincial Focal Agency for WASH for Manicaland Province and as such prides itself in this role where the organisation coordinates and collaborates with all Non-Governmental Organisations and Government line ministries that have a role in the WASH sector.
To alleviate suffering, poverty and oppression by helping people build secure, productive and just communities. Mercy Corps is powered by the belief that a “A better world is possible”.
Major Thematic Areas (Areas Of Focus In Programming)
Water, Sanitation and Hygiene
Market Systems Development
Resilience Building (ZRBF –Research, Urban Social Assistance)
In Manicaland Province, Mercy Corps is currently implementing WASH and Urban Social Assistance programmes. Under the Urban Social Assistance Project, Mercy Corps is implementing cash assistance programme targeting urban vulnerable households in both Mutare City and Rusape Town in collaboration with the World Food Programme.
Under the WASH sector, the organisation is implementing five projects, namely WASH in Schools (WinS) Emergency WASH, Zimbabwe Idai Recovery Project (ZIRP), and two grants responding to Cholera/Covid-19 emergencies.
All the WASH projects are implemented in partnership with UNICEF with funding from a number of donors such as UKAID, the Swedish Government and the German Government through KfW Bank.
A focus on the Covid-19/Cholera Response Project
The Covid-19 Response project is being implemented in Rusape Town, Makoni District and Mutare City under the project title: “Strengthening preparedness and response to Cholera, Covid-19 and other diarrhoeal disease outbreaks in Makoni District, Rusape Town and Mutare City”. The project is funded by UNICEF and UKAID.
While the project is being implemented across the whole city in Mutare, some components of the project like distribution of Water Sanitation and Hygiene Non-Food Items (WASH NFIs) is limited to wards one, two, four, five (Sakubva), 15 (Dangamvura and Gimboki)16 (Hob House, Natview) & 17 (areas close to Chikanga and St Joseph’s Mission Hospital). In Mutare City, Mercy Corps is working in close collaboration with other WASH partners mainly Goal and Africa Ahead and Government technical ministries. In Rusape Town, the Covid-19 response project is being implemented across all the urban wards, while covering two wards (three and 31) in Makoni Rural District.
Project Outputs And Progress Update
The project has three result areas namely:
Result 1:Restore access to sufficient water of appropriate quality and quantity to fulfil basic needs for an estimated 50 000 women, men and children in three affected districts.
Mercy Corps prides itself in creating long lasting relationships with Government line ministries/departments and parastatals working in the development sector. To date, the project has managed to repair a total of six broken down boreholes in Mutare City. In partnership with the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA), the project managed to equip one new drilled borehole in the Gimboki area popularly known as Majeke.
Head works comprising of apron and run-off channel were constricted at this and other boreholes under the project. The project is also repairing or constructing new head works on the other repaired boreholes.
All the boreholes targeted to date were repaired/rehabilitated or equipped in partnership with the District Development Fund (DDF) Water Division. To enhance sustainability in the management of water sources, the Mercy Corps project has trained Water Point Committees in Mutare City, Makoni District and Rusape Town with plans to train Village Pump Mechanics at an advanced stage.
To ensure that the repaired boreholes supply safe water to residents, the Mutare City Council’s Environmental Health Department collects water samples from these boreholes and carries out bacteriological analysis of the same.
As a quality control measure some samples are send to Africa University to confirm the authenticity of results coming from the City laboratory.
The Mercy Corps Covid-19 response project has supported both the Rusape Town Council and the Mutare City Council with mobile laboratories to enhance water quality monitoring in the two local authorities. The project has also sponsored the training of staff from the two local authorities on water quality monitoring.
Result 2 :Improve awareness of Covid-19, safe hygiene and sanitation practices, with a focus on participatory health and hygiene education (PHHE) in high risk communities (bus terminus, churches, market places, other public places, etc.).
In an effort to improve community awareness on Covid- 19, the project partnered with Diamond FM to disseminate key hygiene messages to Mutare residents through the holding of mobile awareness shows within the city.
An estimated total of about 85 000 people were directly reached with key health and hygiene messages during the six-day event. This is based on the Mutare City population estimates for the year 2020 where the city estimates to have a population of 203 167 people with 15,9 percent of the population below the age of five and these children are perceived to lack comprehension of messages disseminated during the mobile awareness shows.
The project estimates to have reached 50 percent of the remaining 84.1 percent of the population (170 864) translating to 85432 people.
During these mobile awareness shows, a minimum of 20-minute technical discussions on Covid-19/ cholera and other diarrhoeal diseases were held and broadcast live on Diamond FM.
A total of 550 00 people are estimated to have been reached by key health and hygiene messages through the daily 20-minute live radio discussions where topics on Covid-19, cholera, malaria and waste management were discussed.
The figure is based on a conservative figure of 1 107 055 active listeners of Diamond FM (ZAMPS Report 2019). The mobile awareness shows were held across the whole city although greater focus was placed on the most populous parts of the city, namely Sakubva, Chikanga, Dangamvura and Gimboki. The key messaging was “Mask Up Correctly, Sanitise, Observe Social and Physical Distancing”.
In a bid to promote hand-washing with soap under running water, 200 bars of soap and were distributed to residents of the city.
Result 3: Children, women and men affected by cholera/Covid-19 benefit from a rapid WASH response within 72 hours.
Mercy Corps in collaboration with the City of Mutare has repaired toilets at the following public places in the city, Meikles Park, Dangamvura Market, Chikanga Sports Field and at the City Centre Bus Terminus popularly known as Mudzviti.
Established hand-washing stations at public toilets, markets and bus terminuses,which is expected to go a long way in supporting and promoting regular hand-washing by the city residents and other public travellers. Billboards with a key health and hygiene message encouraging residents to wash their hands with soap under running water were erected at these repaired ablution facilities.
A total of 2 440 WASH Hygiene kits were distributed in Mutare City, Makoni and Rusape Town. The kits consisted of a 20-litre bucket with tap, 25-litre jerry can (chigubhu), two bars of soap as well as Health/Hygiene reading posters and pamphlets).
Increasing access to safe water through repairing/rehabilitating 46 boreholes across the three domains.
Strengthening Community Based Management through training of Water Point User and Village Pump Mechanics in partnership with the District Development Fund and the respective local authorities.
Establishment of four piped water schemes in Makoni District to lessen the water collection burden on women and the girl child.
Support Covid-19 Rapid Response Teams (RRT) in Makoni, Mutare and Rusape through capacity building, resources mobilisation and risk communication. The project periodically supports the Mutare RRT with fuel provision to support contact tracing and other Covid-19 activities.
Support Village Health Workers (VHW) and Hygiene Promoters on risk communication strategies including the use of the Community Health Club approach.
The piped water scheme is expected to provide clean and safe water to 60 households in Kuwenyu Village, Nyatate. The 3km long piped water scheme also acts as a backup source of safe water for both Nyatate Clinic and Nyatate Primary School.
The construction of this US$50 000 piped water scheme has seen a reduction in the walking distance by some villagers, mostly girls and women by an average of 6km (to and from the old borehole).
The reduction in time spent looking for water will allow women, girls and boys to use that time for other livelihoods activities. The establishment of communal taps/water collection points along the pipeline has created a safer environment mostly for women and girls as they now collect water closer to their homes. Implementation of the Urban Social Assistance project started in January 2020 with 8 000 people benefiting from the grants.
In September, the project scaled up activities and this saw the number of beneficiaries rising to 13 114. Each beneficiary receives a monthly allocation of US$12 for food and other nutritional needs. The project is expected to end in February 2021.