Community support is key to successful hand-washing stations to combat COVID-19 in Myanmar

Sittwe, Rakhine State, Myanmar, 2 June 2020 – As part of COVID-19 prevention activities, UN-Habitat installed 27 hand-free handwashing facilities in key locations including markets and bus stations in western Myanmar.

UN Habitat’s work in Rakhine State is funded by the Government of Japan and the work was undertaken with the support and co-contribution of communities. In some cases, they have cost-shared or self-financed the stations, and are looking after its maintenance and upkeep.  Generally, UN-Habitat works with community groups, local businesses, and civil society actors in Sittwe Township.

In addition to the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, several areas in Sittwe Township are currently facing the early onset of a summer drought which has led to water shortages.

One store owner, Daw Yin Thein, based at Ma Gyi Myaing Market in Sittwe said the water shortage, as well as difficulties finding soap, made the hand-washing facilities very welcome.

“The hand-washing station near the market is very useful; people who are going back home after buying fish, meat, and vegetables can wash their hands here and be safe from COVID-19,” she said.

Information and Communication materials have been distributed at markets and bus terminals and information is available at the handwashing facilities.

No cases have been reported so far in Sittwe and only 2 cases in Rakhine state both returnees from foreign countries.

A child learns how to use the hands-free, foot pedal operated handwashing stations provided by UN-Habitat for COVID-19 prevention in Sittwe, Myanmar