In Photos: Spreading vital information across communities in Ethiopia to protect against COVID-19

By Mesfin Gebreyes and Machrine Birungi

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia – In this landlocked country of 108 million people, approximately 80 per cent of the population lives in rural communities. This makes spreading public health messages difficult, but Ethiopia has risen to the challenge.

Here are some of the ways that Ethiopians are helping their fellow citizens understand how to keep themselves safe from coronavirus, how to stop the spread of the pandemic, and how to make physical distancing work.

In the town of Dila, the District Administrator (on the left) and the Head of the Health Office demonstrate new ways of greeting people. During an awareness-raising campaign recently, the two government officials also spoke to the crowd about the importance of handwashing with soap and water, sneezing or coughing into one's elbow, and the symptoms of COVID-19.

One of the best defence against coronavirus is frequent handwashing with soap and water. In Geze Gofa and Shashego Districts, religious leaders are working closely with health officials to promote health messages and enforce the need for physical distancing through a public address system to reach more people.

With our partners, innovative ways of spreading the information about coronavirus have been used, such as this mobile van deployed by World Vision. The van travels through communities as part of our campaign to raise awareness on how to prevent COVID-19. The banners wrapped around the mobile vans contain information on how to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

For many people coming to the market, handwashing is a must behaviour. This district health office expert is promoting handwashing at the entrance to the local market, conveying coronavirus prevention methods and teaching shoppers about the symptoms of COVID-19.

With support from WSSCC's Global Sanitation Fund, district health workers have been busy In the Oromia region. Here they lined up for a community sensitization event. They spoke about the importance of washing hands with soap and water, avoiding travel and crowded areas, and the use of face masks.

These two girls demonstrate how to wash hands properly after a campaign event. They are among thousands of people in Oromia region that received awareness about handwashing with soap and water through our partners.

Necessity is the mother of invention, and with support of our partners, local communities in Halaba and Hawassa-SNNPR (Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples' Region) are finding innovative ways of ensuring consistent access to handwashing. They have installed foot-operated handwashing facilities.

COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of water, sanitation and hygiene in public places, including markets and bus stations. WSSCC and partners have scaled up hygiene awareness, particularly in public places, to ensure everyone has access to handwashing facilities. A group of youth volunteers operating and maintaining public handwashing facilities.

A new handwashing facility was installed in a local bus station in Halaba-SNNPR


The fire department carries out weekly disinfection of one of the main roads in Addis Ababa.

At the border, local health officials carry out screening of those entering the country through Kalu district-Amhara Region.

At this handwashing facility in Halaba and Hula districts-SNNP Region, local volunteer youth found a creative way to mark the limits of safe physical distancing: the rib of the banana leaf.

In Silti district-SNNP Region, the district health office here is leading by example, enforcing physical distancing during a health worker training session. The health workers are receiving instruction on how to conduct community-based surveillance.

WSSCC has already reached millions of vulnerable people with sanitation and #hygiene interventions. But incremental progress is no longer enough. We are evolving into the Sanitation and Hygiene Fund to support those left behind and achieve sanitation and hygiene for all.

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