In the framework of the fight against the coronavirus pandemic in Burkina Faso, Uduma, a subsidiary of the French group Odial Solutions, and the company Vergnet Burkina, a subsidiary of the French group Vergnet Hydro, decided to launch the operation "Clean hands against Covid-19". This operation concerns 71,000 users in the Centre-North and Upper Basins regions of the country.
Already a major handicap in normal times, the lack of access to drinking water is taking on a new dimension with Covid-19 in Burkina Faso. Washing one’s hands at any time is a difficult challenge to take up, while the country is now one of the most affected by the pandemic in West Africa. According to the latest assessment of the Burkinabe authorities, the disease has already claimed 48 deaths out of 688 people who tested positive for coronavirus and, every day, voices are being raised calling for more support for the survival of the population.
In order to break the chain of transmission of the virus in this landlocked Sahelian country, where at least 27% of the population has no access to drinking water, Uduma, a subsidiary of the French group Odial Solutions, which specialises in providing services in isolated areas in developing countries, and Vergnet Burkina, a subsidiary of the French group Vergnet Hydro specialising in rural water supply and owned by Odial Solutions, launched the “Clean hands against Covid-19” operation in Burkina Faso on May 6, 2020. It aims to supply 71,000 users in two regions of the country with drinking water for sanitation. “We are going to make a pedal washbasin and soaps available to users of 80 Uduma standpipes in the Centre-North and Upper Basins regions out of our own funds,” explains Jean-Christophe Ki, the managing director of the Vergnet Burkina company, which provides the Uduma service in Burkina Faso.
Vergnet Burkina and Uduma will finance the entire “Clean hands against Covid-19” operation. According to the suppliers, this will have no impact on the price of the water service initially set in consultation with the national and local authorities. “We also plan to offer a pedal washbasin to each of the nine communes in which we will carry out this pilot operation, to help them get through this terrible sanitary ordeal,” says Lucie Kaboré, operations manager at Vergnet Burkina.
According to the report “Progress on household drinking water, sanitation and hygiene 2000-2017” (Joint Monitoring Programme, Unicef, WHO, 2019), 92% of people living in rural areas of Burkina Faso do not have access to the basic necessities to wash their hands at home.
The equipment used in the “Clean hands against Covid-19” operation is 100% made in Burkina Faso. The pedal hand washing machines, for example, were manufactured by the company EPGF in Ouagadougou.
Vergnet Burkina and Uduma hope to be able to extend this operation to all 208,000 Uduma users in Burkina Faso, Mali and Côte d’Ivoire. “More than ever, we need water to ensure the sanitary conditions that create barriers. We are, of course, listening to experts, industrialists, donors and others who want to make their contribution,” says Mikael Dupuis, Uduma’s Deputy Managing Director.