Project Launched to Strengthen Water Security and Limit the Impact of COVID-19 in Micronesia
Chuuk – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has launched a new project to improve access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). The project will respond to community spread of COVID-19 which reached the FSM in July 2022, nearly three years after the first case was confirmed globally.
The USD 1.5 million Covid-19 Response: Improving WASH Access in Public Facilities project, funded by the Government of Japan, is also implemented in the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) where community transmission of COVID-19 began in August 2022.
The project in FSM and RMI aims to limit the impact of the pandemic by improving access to WASH in public facilities. The project is very timely, launched some days before World Health Day on 7 April, which this year focuses on Health for All.
“The rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in FSM and RMI, despite the Governments of both nations taking urgent measures to curb its transmission, was a public health challenge that required immediate attention,” said Salvatore Sortino, IOM Chief of Mission in Micronesia speaking at the project launch on 29 March.
“IOM is pleased to work with the Government of Japan and collaborate with the Governments of FSM and RMI to deliver much-needed WASH assistance to prevent the infection from spreading further, particularly in hard-to-reach outer islands,” Sortino added.
“Sanitary water is essential for our daily lives and it turned out to be at risk during the pandemic, especially in outer islands. As all of us have learned in the last couple of years, COVID-19 can spread quickly but basic measures especially washing hands frequently are the most effective way to prevent the spread and limit the impact of the outbreak,” stated Yasutaka Okamoto, Second Secretary of the Embassy of Japan in the Federated States of Micronesia.
The 12-month project targets 76,000 community members in six islands in RMI and 13 islands in FSM’s Chuuk State with a focus on remote outer islands where access to WASH facilities and health services is limited.
Across all target islands, the project aims to install a set of WASH facilities including a water tank, roofing and piping for a rainwater catchment system, a handsfree handwashing station, and a medical sink.
The WASH facilities will be installed in public places such as schools, churches and Government offices which have gaps in water and sanitation facilities, receive many visitors on a regular basis and where local authorities and partners can sustain the facilities after handover by the project.
Additionally, Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE) activities will be implemented to increase knowledge on transmission and hygiene habits in the community and address immediate and long-term needs.
At the launch event, consultations on selection of public infrastructures and methodologies for RCCE were conducted with mayors of target islands in Chuuk to ensure the project is adapted to local needs and capacities.
IOM will work in close partnership with national and state Departments of Health, Mayors, Office of the Governor and national and state disaster management agencies to implement activities timely and ensure relevant agencies assume ownership over the facilities once installations are completed.
For more information, contact at IOM Micronesia: Haimanot Abebe, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, +691 320 8735