Promoting Wash and Health on COVID-19 and Other Communicable Diseases in the East Africa Community (EAC) Region: Key Achievements of a Recently Closed Initiative in Rwanda

A beneficiary using one of the 16 Hand Washing Facilities (HWF) built in border Districts of Bugesera, Kirehe, Musanze, Nyagatare and Rubavu (Credits: Ph Flick-Studios Ltd).

The “Wash and Health Promotion, Sensitization and Awareness on COVID-19 and other Communicable Diseases in the EAC Region” project – funded by the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) and implemented by the East African Community (EAC) Secretariat, in cooperation with IOM, in EAC countries (Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, United Republic of Tanzania and Uganda) – was launched in June 2021 and officially closed on the 20th of May 2022.

The overall objective of the project was to increase awareness and enhance health and hygiene protective behaviours to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, including COVID-19, in selected high-risk border areas.

The project included four key sets of activities:

1. Baseline and endline surveys to identify gaps in hygiene promotion, information and behaviours, and Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) infrastructures and to define the hot-spots locations for interventions.

2. Awareness-raising campaigns for target population on hygiene and protective behaviours and practices.

3. Installation of WASH standardized facilities at Points of Entry (PoEs) or other congregation areas.

4. Regional meeting to identify and address the gaps undermining cross-border preparedness and response and to promote unified regional standards and policies, in accordance with International Health Regulations (IHR).

In Rwanda, IOM worked closely with the Ministry of Infrastructure, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Ministry of Health, the Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC) and the Rwanda Health Communication Centre (RHCC), as well as relevant District authorities. The project’s key achievements included:

• Large-scale awareness-raising campaigns on preventive behaviours and hygiene in relation to COVID-19 and other communicable diseases in the Districts of Kirehe, Musanze, Nygatare and Rubavu for an estimated reach of 4 million people.

• Construction of 16 Hand-Washing Facilities in congregation areas, such as markets and administrative offices, in the Districts of Bugesera, Kirehe, Musanze, Nyagatare and Rubavu.

• Donation of Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) materials and Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) to the Districts of Bugesera, Burera, Gicumbi, Kirehe, Musanze, Nyagatare, Rubavu and the Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC).

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of borders as priority intervention areas for disease prevention and control. At the same time, this project – implemented in cooperation with the EAC in EAC Member States – showed the pivotal role of regional cooperation as a strong, effective tool to jointly tackle current and future pandemics. 


SDG 3 - Good Health and Well Being
SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation