COVID-19 prevention campaign in public water points in Mozambique starts

Woman pumping a manual water pump.

Today, 14 September, SNV in Mozambique, the Ministry of Public Works, Habitation and Water Resources, and Mozambique WASH Cluster have launched its behavioural change communication (BCC) campaign, Prevenção da COVID 19 nos Pontos Públicos de Água (COVID 19 prevention at public waterpoints). In this Q&A, we dialogue with CEDES Project Manager David Afonso to learn more about the campaign and how it is contributing to COVID-19 prevention at public water points.

Why did the team consider a BCC campaign focused on public water points necessary?

Public water points are still a major source of drinking water for Mozambican households. According to the WHO/UNICEF’s Joint Monitoring Program data in 2017, 64.43% of the population do not have access to piped water at household level. Every morning, thousands of Mozambicans – particularly women and children – go to a public water point to collect water for their basic needs: drinking, cooking and basic hygiene. Gatherings of people are very normal and the surfaces of these water points (taps and hand pumps) are touched by many people.

Water points (like markets and public transport) are considered risk points for COVID-19 transmission among the population. Today, SNV, in coordination with the MOPHRH and its partners starts rolling out a COVID-19 prevention campaign to reach the more than 20,000 water points all over the country. The campaign is primarily aimed at managers of water points: private operators of Water Supplies and Community WASH committees.

The campaign aims to transform water point managers to ‘agents’ of COVID-19 prevention.

What behaviours are being promoted by the campaign to reduce the risk of transmission around water points?

Our campaign messages were developed based on different behavioural determinants: affiliation, status and profitability. Our messages to water point managers and decision-makers are simple and realistic. These include the following:

  • Define/spread out water collection schedules for different areas of the neighbourhood to avoid large gatherings.

  • Create physical markers within the vicinity of public water points to help with social distancing.

  • Wash and clean public water point high-touch surfaces with water and soap regularly.

  • Make simple handwashing stations and soap available at all times to enable the washing of hands before and after collecting water.

  • Ensure management of taps by the water operator (to avoid tap contamination).

How is SNV and its partners making sure that these (new) behaviours are implemented?

An SMS system (short message service system) is being developed to monitor the campaign. This will be available in three months. Using the national WASH database, the monitoring team will contact water point caretakers by SMS regularly so that they can report on the preventative actions they take to prevent COVID-19 spread at water points. Government partners responsible for WASH outreach campaigns will also monitor campaign implementation.

Besides the video, what other types of strategies are being deployed to ensure that an optimal number of public water point managers are reached?

Campaign messages will be disseminated through:

  • radio spots on national and community radio in Portuguese and in 10 national languages;

  • SMS using phone contacts registered in the national WASH database;

  • videos on national TV and social media; and

  • posters, shared on social media and through local government and government partners’ offices.

Recently, SNV in Mozambique entered into a new COVID-19 BCC partnership with the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office of the Government of the United Kingdom. How is this new project envisaged to build on the success of SNV's earlier work and collaboration with partners?

SNV is now working to extend the hygiene behaviour change intervention (BCC) support it provides to partners in other locations, including schools and marketplaces. With the government slated to reopen schools and marketplaces in October 2020 – key locations of potential coronavirus transmission – it is essential to communicate messages with speed and accuracy. SNV’s long-term experience in BCC approaches makes the organisation well-placed in providing the government with this support.

Photo: Screenshot from SNV and UKAID produced video for PRONASAR titled, Better WASH services for millions of Mozambicans (SNV/PRONASAR)

Note: SNV in Mozambique's involvement in this nationwide campaign and all outputs co-produced by SNV are delivered as part of the UKAID funded project, Capacity Enhancement for Decentralised Services (CEDeS) in WASH.

Interview conducted by: Anjani Abella