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Update from the BSA COVID-19 Working Group on Water and Sanitation

WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) is the first line of defence against the coronavirus

The Business for South Africa (B4SA) COVID-19 Working Group on Water and Sanitation (B4SA Water), in collaboration with the National Business Initiative (NBI) is supporting the COVID-19 response efforts of the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) and of local municipalities. The launch of targeted emergency water response projects supports the overarching message that WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) is the first line of defence against the coronavirus. The B4SA Water and NBI partnership is focusing on supporting handwashing facilities in dense urban areas, as well as supporting water access for handwashing in rural communities.

WASH is central to curbing the spread of COVID-19. Aligning with DWS and partnering closely with local municipalities and communities.

Gauteng is the most populous province in South Africa, the centre of the economy and the region most affected by COVID-19. Reducing the rate of infection in Gauteng is essential to protecting employees, vulnerable groups and the economy as whole. With strong buy-in from local government, B4SA Water and the NBI have the ability to deploy solutions rapidly. B4SA Water and the NBI will be providing hand washing facilities in prioritised informal settlements, hostels and social housing commencing in the City of Ekurhuleni.

The first phase of this initiative (in Ekurhuleni Municipality, Gauteng) has the NBI’s Technical Assistance, Mentorship and Development Programme (TAMDEV) providing technical support by designing foot-pump hand washing facilities. Currently, the plan is to integrate the foot operated valve and handwashing station with tanks provided by DWS through their national programme.

In addition, hand sanitisers are being distributed as an emergency interim measure. NBI member company, Sasol, has come forward to sponsor these hand-sanitisers as part of the on-going emergency response.

As a supporting activity, an initial trialling of a basic, affordable in-house handwashing unit (using a 2l plastic bottle design), has commenced with 150 households in an informal settlement in northern Johannesburg.

The second phase of the response entails the identification of areas in Limpopo Province, with sufficient groundwater for the installation of boreholes, in support of community water access in rural areas. Funding for the installation of up to 10 boreholes has already been secured. Technical assistance kindly provided by a local engineering firm, SRK, has assisted in verifying existing groundwater data gathered by the DWS Limpopo regional office.

This initiative highlights the possibilities inherent in rapid response, multi-stakeholder approaches in combating COVID-19.

The B4SA Working Group on Water and Sanitation and the NBI continue to appeal for companies with applicable technology or with communities they wish to support to come forward and help make a difference now to flatten the COVID-19 curve.

For further information on these projects or on how to help please contact:

Jane Molony, B4SA: COVID19 Water & Sanitation Lead
( or Samantha Choles (

Alex McNamara, NBI: Water Lead
( or Mmaphefo Thwala (

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