In response to the pandemic- a message from Aerosan
Our team would like to express its deepest sympathies to everyone whose life has been impacted by the pandemic, whether it be poor health, losing their loved ones, losing employment or a business, or being distanced from home or family. No matter who or where we are, we are all facing this struggle together.
We are extremely grateful to essential workers on the frontline around the world that are responding to this pandemic. Among our greatest heroes today are healthcare workers, drivers, grocery store clerks, community volunteers and sanitation workers.
What has come to light in recent times, is the need for food, water, shelter, and safe management of waste. Essential service providers are needed to halt the spread of the virus and to keep society functioning.
Unfortunately, in many developing countries, the best lines of defense against COVID-19 and other diseases have proven difficult. Social distancing can be nearly impossible, especially in densely populated communities. Hand washing is not feasible without access to soap and water, and those living on daily wages without savings cannot meet basic needs during a lockdown. It is very hard for these communities to take the necessary precautions. This situation further highlights the vulnerable state of urban communities without proper water, sanitation, and health services.
WHO WE ARE
Aerosan is a Canadian non-profit most recently supported by Grand Challenges Canada to improve urban sanitation in Nepal. Before the pandemic, Aerosan established a social enterprise in Kathmandu, that provides women-friendly sanitation facilities which convert toilet waste into energy. Though our facilities are temporarily closed, we are working with our partners to respond to the pandemic in the best way that we can.
Over the past three years, Aerosan has been working closely with sanitation workers, some of which operate our toilets. Unfortunately, sanitation workers in this region are members of discriminated groups, Dalits, previously known as “untouchables”. We learned that one of their top motivations to organize as a group is to gain respect and dignity for the work that they do. Though they deserve utmost respect for their essential service, many are made to work during the pandemic without protective gear, and go home to families in communities without basic essentials (i.e. food, hand washing and sanitation facilities). There are at least 4000 workers in Nepal’s cities that are especially vulnerable to this disease due to increased probability of exposure and their poor living conditions.
WHAT WE ARE DOING
Since the lockdown in Nepal, we are leveraging our network of trained sanitation workers to tap into some of these underserved communities, to provide COVID19 education and hygiene kits to vulnerable households, and personal protective equipment for those still working in sanitation at this time. Our local partners in this initiative include WaterAidNepal, Guthi, and Sanitation Workers Management Association Nepal (SWMAN).
Contact us if you are interested in learning more.