International aid organisation Concern Worldwide has supplied almost one million people with soap and hand sanitiser in some of the world’s poorest countries to help prevent major Covid-19 outbreaks.
Concern has been supplying cleaning soaps since the pandemic began in countries such as Syria, Haiti, Malawi, Niger and Somalia where many struggle to afford basic items.
“Cleaning hands is essential in crowded slums to help prevent the spread of Covid-19,” said Kwanli Klaudstrup, Concern’s country director in Haiti, the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. “But many of the people we help can’t afford a simple bar of soap – so we had to do something to try and prevent them getting this lethal virus.”
In Haiti, Concern, with help from Irish Aid, also provided money and training for unemployed people to make their own soap to use and sell, which has been running successfully in Cité Soleil, Haiti’s largest slum.
"It is not easy for me to buy soap in my community,” said Sterline Dieu (28) who is now making and selling liquid and solid soap in Cité Soleil.
Kwanli said jobs and incomes disappeared during the pandemic and that soap making projects are just one way they can help provide a lifeline to local economies while improving hygiene and health.
The organisation has also been helping local governments to spread important messages about how people can prevent the spread of Covid-19, such as washing hands, social distancing and wearing face masks.
“We have over 3,500 staff in 23 countries doing everything they can to inform people how to protect themselves and prevent their families from catching the virus,” said Concern’s International Programmes Director, Anne O’Mahony.
“Soap and clean water are so important in the battle against Covid-19, but, sadly, not everyone can afford them.
“We are providing water and soap where people don’t have them and this has been a crucial necessity in many densely populated slums and areas where social distancing is also extremely difficult.”