The le Groupe des Amis de l’Alimentation Scolaire (GAASS) has strengthened its commitment to schoolchildren across Senegal by providing handwashing stations for pupils returning to school following the outbreak of COVID-19. The initiative is being executed in partnership with Dakar-based advocacy tank, Speak Up Africa.
In Senegal, to enable the Ministry of Education to safely deliver its plans to maintain education during the COVID-19 pandemic, GAASS and Speak Up Africa have donated 300 handwashing stations for schools. The facilities, which will enable schoolchildren to follow the recommended COVID-19 prevention measures, were officially delivered to the Minister of Education, Mr Mamadou Talla, on Thursday, May 14, 2020.
GAASS regroups like-minded individuals to support the World Food Programme’s objective to provide meals to schoolchildren throughout Senegal. Members of GAASS seek to raise public awareness of and support advocacy efforts for national school meal programmes. At present, the World Food Programme provides meals to over 500 schools throughout Senegal.
In Africa, there are currently over 147,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 4,230 deaths. Several risk factors mean the virus could spread quickly across the continent. High population densities, communal living as well as constrained access to water and washing facilities all increase the likelihood of coronavirus infections and fatalities. As some children head back to school, governments must ensure that they are returning to safe environments, with the correct COVID-19 prevention equipment in place, says Stay Safe Africa.
The collaboration is described as an component of the Stay Safe Africa campaign, which seeks to empower communities and individuals to take simple and proven preventive measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Africa. The platform incorporates messages and advice tailored to African communities and leadership, accounting for language, literacy and cultural barriers.
“As a group, our objective is to enhance children’s learning and wellbeing through the provision of school meal programmes. In the context of COVID-19, it is critical that children return to school with the proper prevention methods in place. This will not only keep them protected from COVID-19, by following the proven prevention method of handwashing, but ensure that they can go on learning and developing safely,” said Ndioro Ndiaye, Chair of GAASS.
“Education provides children with the tools they need for a healthier, more prosperous future – benefitting themselves and their communities. If we want to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, it is vital that education continues to be delivered safely in the face of COVID-19. Here at Speak Up Africa we are passionate about improving access to sanitation, so we are delighted to partner with GAASS to provide schoolchildren with handwashing facilities to protect themselves and their classmates from COVID-19,” highlighted Yacine Djibo, Executive Director of Speak Up Africa.