COVID-19 - Actions taken by households in Bangladesh

The Bangladesh Context 

Official reports are showing that the COVID-19 virus is spreading across Bangladesh, including to some of the low-access, hard-to-reach regions we work in: in Pathuakali, Khulna and Barguna the first cases have been identified. So far none of our beneficiaries have been reported to be infected with COVID-19.

The domestic and international travel bans are still in effect, as is the government-proclaimed public holiday. While in some districts a full lock-down has been imposed, in others the measures are (still) less stringent.

How are people getting informed?

Max Foundation is working hard to get the right information to regions where access to information is limited. This is done in collaboration with the local authorities and our partner NGOs, executed through our mobile-phone campaign. As of now, this is done through three main pathways:

Miking:

A rickshaw equipped with a big speaker and microphone drives around villages and communities, providing information on prevention, mainly on the importance of hygiene and keeping distance. This is usually done in cooperation with the regional authorities.

Reaching key figures in the communities 

We have a comprehensive network of key figures in our beneficiaries’ communities. Besides regional authorities these could be community- and courtyard leaders or mentors. Daily contact with these figures, through text and calling, allows them to receive correct up-to-date information and disseminate this amongst the households.

Reaching households directly

In the past week, we have been reaching out to 283,000 households directly with messages on the prevention of corona through mobile phones.

Our results

In total, we have made 13,072 successful phonecalls to stakeholders and households, and have sent 2107 text messages in our mobile-phone campaign. And we are happy to say that it is yielding results!

More than 1400 households in our project areas have installed MaxiBasins in their homes, either at their place of dining or near the latrines, since the start of our campaign. Having an in-home MaxiBasin increases the ease of handwashing, and therefore is a powerful tool against spread of the virus.

On top of that, the public waterpumps where many households collect their water, are being cleaned and disinfected by the communities themselves. As you can see in these pictures, care is being taken to stay one and a half meters apart.

The supply of hygiene products is safeguarded by the local entrepreneurs and Health Promotion Agents in our programmes, who also serve as key figures to spread awareness about COVID-19 prevention.

What are the needs?

We are using our mobile phone campaign not only to spread information, but also to receive feedback. We know for instance, that the communities are taking the distancing seriously, and are for instance not letting people from outside their communities enter the villages.

What is it that communities and stakeholders are asking for? So far, we have learned that

  • Pregnant women are in need of more targeted medical advice and services
  • There is a need for more food and hygiene support
  • There has been asked for higher support and subsidies on equipment, such as masks.

What are our next steps?

In the continuation of our mobile-phone campaign, we will complement the COVID-19 messaging with additional nutrition and health messaging, targeted directly at those households that need it.

For instance, we will target households with children under 5 with specific information towards stunting-reduction and nutrition, as well as households with pregnant women.

By doing this, we ensure that the comprehensive nature of our regular programme doesn’t get lost, and people will continue to focus on the well-being and steady growth of their children, besides strengthening their WASH-habits as part of a COVID-19 response.

We are currently repurposing funds to finance this emergency response. However we are actively fundraising to ensure a mid-term, sustainable response to the threat of COVID-19 in the low-acces, hard-to-reach regions in Bangladesh and Ethiopia. If you are interested to know more, please feel free to contact our Communications Manager, Colette Beukman, at colette@maxfoundation.nl. 

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