June Update from the Field
Over the past few weeks, the number of COVID-19 cases in Honduras and Nicaragua continues to rise. As of June 29, there are official reports of 18,082 confirmed cases in Honduras and 2,170 reported cases in Nicaragua (Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 Database). Unfortunately in Nicaragua, the number of reported cases does not reflect the true number of cases throughout the country. Independent medical groups in Nicaragua are showing significantly higher estimates of cases in the country, while there has been minimal leadership at the national level and no travel restrictions in place to curb the spread since the beginning of the pandemic.
To reduce the spread of the coronavirus and protect both our staff and the communities we serve, we are working in the field only when 100% necessary. In both countries, we are doing more work via cellphone reaching out to our rural water boards and communities with technologies such as WhatsApp to monitor chlorine levels and assist with any technical issues over the phone. All of our field technicians are closely following the water quality of each assigned community, ensuring there is treatment in place to kill the harmful bacteria in their water source. Our technician trips to rural communities are reduced to one or two visits per week, only for specific cases and making use of all other protection measures.
We are sending a unified message to communities about the new way to provide technical support and assistance. Our team has made videos to providing technical support remotely in place of in-person visits. We have been surprised by the positive results from this remote work and using technology to support our monitoring efforts.
Updates from the Field
With an increase in COVID-19 cases, our team in Nicaragua has begun to work more remotely and is using cellphone technology to report on do chlorine monitoring with our rural community water boards. We are able to maintain the delivery of chlorine while reducing our field trips to help slow the spread of the virus and protect our staff. Last week EOS Staff delivered chlorine to Finca Selva Negra, a farm in the department of Matagalpa, and they also dropped off tablets in the Las Vegas community.
Alvaro Rodrigues, our Country Director in Nicaragua, delivered 33 water filters to 2 hardware stores in the municipality of Santa Rosa del Peñón. We are setting up a water filter distribution station in Santa Rosa del Peñón where the filters will be on sale for consignment to villagers who do not have access to safe drinking water. Earlier this month, EOS program assistant Ivania Arcia prepared the filters for delivery.
In Honduras, our team has created a group via WhatsApp with the Water Boards to help them have closer communication and help answer questions about any problems they may be having with their water systems. Like in Nicaragua, our staff is being creative in how we can continue to serve our rural customers while slowing the spread of COVID-19.
Proper handwashing is one of the key ways to stop the spread of coronavirus. Earlier in June, WaSH School Education Coordinator, Oneida Lara made a visit to our rural communities to provide soap and hygiene education. We also continue to work with our school gardens project. In the community of San Pablo/Chinacla in Honduras, a teacher delivers the school snack to the mothers of school children. The snack includes the first harvest of radishes from the school garden. Since the pandemic, the local children have not been able to attend school so together with the parents, staff, and teachers, EOS has helped cultivate a school garden to ensure the children continue to receive a healthy snack.
In Honduras, EOS continues to work together with the parents of several community schools to cultivate our school gardens. These gardens will supply over 290 school children with healthy snacks in response to the pandemic.