Tens of thousands of people in South Sudan are currently at risk of contracting the rampaging COVID-19.
In a seeming frantic bid to arrest the situation, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has donated $4.5 million to help the country.
The funds, contributed by USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, come as confirmed new cases of COVID-19 in South Sudan are increasing daily.
There are 1,830 people infected with the disease, while 32 have died since the global pandemic started. Over 1,680 others – who may have been in contact with COVID-19 sufferers – also are being monitored by authorities.
The need in South Sudan to contain the disease is crucial, especially for populations living in densely populated areas of the capital, Juba, under cramped conditions where contagion is more likely to spread. Many people living in these locations have little or no access to medical care.
These new funds will be used to provide soap, hygiene kits, household water treatment solutions, and water buckets for local communities including the displaced.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) also will be provided for health and humanitarian frontline workers—of IOM and other humanitarian organizations—who may also be at risk of exposure.
Head of the USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team there, Tina Yu, says “this funding will allow frontline workers to continue combating COVID-19 in the places at greatest risk of infection. As a key player in the COVID-19 response, we support IOM’s continued efforts to protect vulnerable communities affected by the pandemic across South Sudan.”
Other uses for the funds will include improving access to affordable water, sanitation and hygiene services to communities most at risk of being infected by COVID-19.
Many of these are outside of displacement camps in densely populated urban and semi-urban areas of Juba, where there is limited access to reliable water supplies.
IOM is establishing a network of shared public hand-washing stations in densely populated areas that lack access to hygiene facilities, such as markets and busy transit hubs for locals, returnees and migrants.
IOM also is training Hygiene Promoters on conducting COVID-19 sensitization at community levels, including identifying key influencers and community leaders. IOM will produce radio broadcasts focusing on addressing Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and Protection issues amidst the pandemic.
IOM South Sudan Chief of Mission, Jean-Philippe Chauzy, says “putting in place measures to help curb the spread of the virus is extremely important as the country’s frail health system would not be able to cope with a continuous upsurge of cases.
‘’This support is a clear demonstration that only through collective efforts can we fight this pandemic that knows no borders. Today the American people have demonstrated that they stand together with the people of South Sudan in the fight against COVID-19.”
IOM continues to work with the authorities in South Sudan to support the National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan, particularly in the areas of infection prevention and control, and water and sanitation, in light of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) on access to clean water and sanitation for all.
he generous support of the US Government will enable IOM to significantly scale up its COVID-19 responses in South Sudan, which also includes screening activities in key points of entry, assessments of mobility and COVID-19 preparedness at key entry and transit hubs to inform the wider humanitarian response, the production of reusable cloth masks by beneficiaries, rumour tracking, and tailored risk communication and community engagement efforts.