Cities Alliance will implement a new initiative to bolster the COVID-19 response in Greater Monrovia’s most vulnerable communities, with funding from the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.
The Addressing COVID-19 in Informal Settlements of Greater Monrovia, Liberia programme seeks to ensure that the slum dwellers, traders, community health workers, and waste workers are better able to protect themselves against COVID-19, reduce the spread of the disease, and maintain vital livelihoods, markets and services.
Residents of Greater Monrovia’s informal settlements are particularly vulnerable to infection due to inadequate housing, reliance on daily wages, and lack of access to basic services such as water (only 27% have access to piped water and 7% have access to sanitation). These factors make it very difficult for people to follow health authorities’ advice to wash hands, social distance and isolate in order to prevent disease.
The programme will address COVID-19 in two main ways: By distributing sanitisers and soaps for hand cleaning in areas that lack water; and by increasing access to clean water in informal settlements and public spaces such as local markets and public toilets. These activities are designed to provide urgent support quickly where it is needed most.
For the first component, Cities Alliance will procure hand sanitiser liquid and soaps on a large scale and distribute them widely to ensure that all have access to effective hand cleaning products. The distribution will target the most vulnerable urban communities and individuals in Liberia, including slum dwellers, market vendors, waste workers.
Women are especially vulnerable to infection. They make up a disproportionate percentage of workers in the informal sector and play a key role in fighting COVID-19 in informal settlements as frontline healthcare workers, caregivers at home, and mobilisers in their communities.
The second component focuses on improving access to clean water. Cities Alliance will partner with the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation (LWSC) to assess the water infrastructure and determine priority points. We will then procure materials and equipment to repair breaks in the existing water supply infrastructure, add new water points and storage reservoirs in slum areas, and build the communities’ capacity to maintain those water points.
Cities Alliance is well positioned to implement this programme. Through the Liberia Country Programme and funding from Comic Relief and the European Union, Cities Alliance is already working with communities and the government to implement direct responses to the COVID-19 crisis. These activities include setting up 225 hand-washing stations in markets and hotspots, a weekly radio talk show to raise awareness of the virus, and an outreach campaign in 50 communities targeting basic hygiene, waste management, and gender-related messages.
And through the Country Programme’s Community Upgrading Fund, Cities Alliance been working with the Liberia Water and Sanitation Corporation (LWSC) to build water kiosks in communities throughout the city. For the new programme, Cities Alliance will collaborate with LWSC to undertake a rapid assessment of the existing water network to identify priority water points and water storage units that need to be repaired.
Cities Alliance will implement the Addressing COVID-19 in Informal Settlements of Greater Monrovia, Liberia programme together with the National Association of Community Based Enterprises (NACOBE), the Federation of Petty Traders and Informal Workers Union of Liberia (FEPTIWUL), the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), Federation of Liberia Urban Poor Savers (FOLUPS), LWSC, and local authorities, among others.
The £350,000 programme is expected to run for six months, from October 2020 through March 2021.