Collaboration and community outreach from WaterAid in Papua New Guinea


In Papua New Guinea (PNG), rates of testing and testing capacity are very low in PNG and it is likely that COVID-19 may not be as effectively identified in PNG as in other more developed countries.  For this reason, an early and intensified campaign aimed at increasing awareness and putting in place measures like social distancing was critical.

Our partner, Wateraid was quick to act in March and identified an eight weeks critical window for raising awareness of the disease in PNG. In response to the emergence of COVID-19 as a threat, WaterAid has repositioned their work with Wewak District Development Authority (DDA) and East Sepik Provincial Health Authority (ESPHA) to undertake joint COVID-19 awareness and preparedness.

WaterAid’s work with the government of PNG (through Water for Women) has been undertaken under two workstreams. 


Workstream 1: Direct Community Outreach

From 25th March 2020, WaterAid has been working with ESPHA and the DDA to mobilise 6 teams to undertake COVID-19 awareness and preparedness across Wewak District. The teams consist of key government staff including Environmental health officers, health promotion officers, Local Level government managers (LLGs), community health workers and security/police. Several teams have also included representatives from the East Sepik Council of Women to support outreach for women and people living with disability.

WaterAid has developed COVID-19 messaging packs and provided briefings to government teams on delivery. The messaging has focus on hand hygiene and inclusive set of COVID-19 prevention behaviours, consistent with WHO and NDoH recommendations (handwashing with soap, respiratory hygiene, maintaining social distancing, cleanliness, food hygiene, and referral). In addition, information on how to construct low-cost solutions for handwashing infrastructure (tippy-taps) has been provided and information on government domestic violence referral pathways is being distributed.

With WaterAid’s planning, logistical and financial support government teams began working on COVID-19 awareness and preparedness within all 6 LLGs within Wewak District. This includes reaching remote and challenging environments by road and boat and linking with both Ward councils and community leadership structures to disseminate key messages through both verbal means and the distribution of paper based information.

WaterAid’s own staff supported Boiken LLG to undertake COVID-19 awareness in all 14 wards in April, Boiken LLG consists of approximately 11,000 people dispersed in both mountainous and coastal areas.


Workstream 2: Hygiene Campaign

Together with Wewak DDA and ESPHA WaterAid is positioning to use digital, mass, print and social media for the delivery of hygiene promotion and re-enforcing WHO and NDoH key preventative behaviours.

WaterAid is working with the PHA, District and Provincial Administration to facilitate a series of radio interviews on National Broadcasting Corporation to highlight key COVID19 messages. Such interviews may feature a range of people including politicians, public servants, local celebrities such as athletes and comedians and other well-known and influential entities including church leaders and the Women’s Business Council.

WaterAid will continue to provide updaates on their progress under these two workstreams. It has been incredible to see how quickly and efficiently our partners have swung into action in response to COVID-19.


Pictured: COVID19 Awareness and Preparedness Coastal area, Turubu LLG, Wewak District 30th March 2020 (Source: Winnie Sagiu, EHO, East Sepik Provincial Health)

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