HBCC: Turning Mozambican markets into safer spaces

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The coronavirus has brought new meanings to our day-to-day lives. It has altered the ways people interact with one another. Through the Hygiene and Behaviour Change Coalition (HBCC) that is being spearheaded by FCDO and Unilever, the world’s leading WASH partners have been convened to reach 1 billion people with safe hygiene behaviour messages and products. This is the story of Dorca Chando, a shopkeeper who is translating the coalition’s messages - in practice - to reduce the spread of the virus and other infectious diseases in the Central market of Namaacha.

Cross-contamination is high in public spaces such as markets, transport hubs, and health centres. Reducing the spread of the virus relies on access to good information, the availability (and proper use) of handwashing facilities with soap and face masks, and everybody taking responsibility: for their own health and others around them.

I am surviving

Meet Dorca Chando, electronic components and phone accessories shop owner. Since the COVID-19 pandemic there has been a significant reduction in the number of visitors to the market. COVID-19 has had a negative impact on Dorca’s business but in her own words – ‘I am surviving.’

Dorca Chando, HBCC champion in Namaacha central market

Dorca Chando, HBCC champion in Namaacha central market

Review of COVID-19 prevention checklist with shopkeepers

Review of COVID-19 prevention checklist with shopkeepers

Although life as we know it has changed drastically, we must adapt. Human beings have a long history of adapting to their changing environments. The same is true for Dorca.

Beyond survival

Beyond keeping her business afloat, Dorca is also taking responsibility. Similar to other HBCC trained shopkeepers, Dorca is doing her part to control the spread of COVID-19.

'My stall is located by the entrance of our market where a handwashing facility has been installed. Every morning, it is my responsibility to place a  bucket with water and soap for market visitors’ use. By day end, I am responsible for removing the bucket and storing it in a safe place.'

Social distancing is also an important prevention measure. In the market Dorca pointed out that markings on the floor are guiding people in the practice of safe social distancing.

What Dorca considers to be the greatest challenge in the market is the mandatory use of face masks. Many people find it uncomfortable to use face masks. They find face masks a nuisance as these make breathing difficult.

Business continuity through safe practices

Many prevention measures are not easy to follow. It takes time for new practices to be ingrained fully. New practices can bring discomfort, such as face masks. Often, there is also resistance

Over the course of eight weeks, SNV's HBCC facilitators worked tirelessly to demonstrate to shoppers and vendors how to put on, remove, and dispose of masks safely. The why’s and the how’s to follow to keep everyone safe were shared. These include practising social distancing, proper handwashing with soap, and disinfecting surfaces effectively.

For many vendors in the Central market, the contributions of HBCC facilitators have helped to keep their businesses alive. Said Dorca,

'My advice to everyone is that this disease is here to stay and we must know how to live with it in our day-to-day lives. We must respect the established preventive rules and measures.'

Note: Quotes translated from the Portuguese language

Photos: Market place in Mozambique (banner, Image by Teresa Cotrim from Pixabay) | Other photos c/o SNV in Mozambique staff

For more information on HBCC implementation in Mozambique, contact Alex Grumbley or Abilio Cuambo.