Throughout this global pandemic, our thoughts have been with rural communities in developing countries. Many governments allowed water and sanitation work to continue throughout the pandemic, which kept many hardware stores open and, although their schedules were less predictable, many drilling companies continued to work. While the start of our 2020-21 projects were deferred, in order to keep our partners and benefiting communities safe, our partners were able to catch up, and all work planned for the year was completed on time. While in lockdown (and, therefore, with our partners unable to complete project work), we instilled minimum payment plans for our local partners, to ensure that basic salary and administrative costs were covered. Our partners kept busy, gathering supplies for use in the field (such as masks, hand sanitizer, soap, thermometers, etc.), as well as distributing COVID-19-specific posters to help provide the proper health and sanitation information to those who need it most. We helped develop five posters for our four current partners, and modified the images and language accordingly. We also asked our local partners to develop risk mitigation strategies to help plan for COVID-19-related issues that could negatively affect the proposed project plans.
Thankfully, the lockdowns have been lifted for most countries, and restrictions are widely reduced. However, the biggest thing we’ve learned with COVID-19 is that we truly have to look region-by-region. With that in mind, we continue to work with our local partners each fiscal year (beginning in April), and are keeping a close eye on COVID-19 outbreaks and other risk factors in our working areas (i.e., inaccessible roads due to heavy rainfall). We have included extra budgets for each of our partners to be safe in the field, such as for the purchase of masks and hand sanitizer. As well, we have implemented a more strenuous reporting strategy with our partners to connect even more throughout the year. See our Active Projects page for more information on this year’s projects!
While we pride ourselves on seeing every project we complete in person to ensure its quality and effective completion, this was proven to be an impossible feat during the pandemic. The safety of our staff, partners, and benefiting communities is of the utmost importance to us, and we will continue to delay monitoring trips until it is safe to do so. However, with COVID-19 rates lowering in the areas in which we work, we are looking forward to continuing what we are proudest of – ensuring that each completed project is safe, effective, and making a positive difference in the lives of many.
Overall, we are very lucky to all still be advocating on behalf of those who need it most. This is largely thanks to our generous donors, and we cannot thank you all enough for your continued support! Despite the many challenges, we managed to provide over 150,000 people with clean water over the past two years – and are looking forward to accomplishing even more this year!