When COVID-19 was first confirmed in Ghana this March, we knew we needed a good plan to change our operations, keep the team safe, and fulfill our mission. During those first few weeks, we developed our remote customer calling and other remote work structures. We’ve since developed safety protocols such that we feel confident to have our team in the field, doing what we do best – getting clean water to people who need it!
COVID-19 safety measures changed several things: day-to-day operations for our Saha teammates, things we ask of our entrepreneurs and businesses, and changes to how we operate in the communities. Managers and other office-based staff who can work from home are encouraged to as much as possible, and have extra data packages so they can get their work done without the office internet. In the office, you wash your hands outside before entering and must wear a face mask at all times. We miss all the handshakes, hugs, and high-fives, but we know if we stay safe, we’ll be able to enjoy those expressions of friendship and camaraderie again!
In the field, front-line teammates wear masks or face respirators and gloves, and carry hand sanitizer with them. Each teammate has either several cloth, washable masks, or is supplied with disposable ones depending upon their preference. After all, the best mask is the one you wear!
When we are in the field, we’ve changed how we communicate to stay outdoors and avoid entering the interior of any structure. If we need to do a small group meeting, like with some village VIPs and the entrepreneurs, we do them outside, safely distanced, under a tree. Community meetings and household visits, always a great way to spread information, are also on hold for now as we avoid large gatherings or going door to door and being in contact with lots of people. The great thing is that because everyone knows about COVID-19, it’s easy to explain why we’ve changed our procedures. It’s gratifying to know that the people in the villages understand we are doing these things in order to keep them safe! At first, it was awkward to not shake hands and wear masks while talking, or to ask to meet the elders outside rather than in the chief palace. But as the pandemic continues, more and more we hear from our partners that they are happy we are trying our best to protect their health.
Our entrepreneurs have also changed the way they run their business, beyond the free water. They all wear face masks while selling water – in fact, our front-line team reports that when they show up in a community and sales are happening, 100% of the time, the entrepreneurs have their masks! To date, we’ve distributed over 600 masks – 1 for each entrepreneur, and starting this month we will be distributing enough so that each entrepreneur has 5 so she can wash them between uses. They are also enforcing social distancing at their businesses during sales. It’s so hard to remember to do, so we are really proud that 96% of the time, we can observe social distancing during sales! For those familiar with our usual opening day photos with plenty of crowded people and buckets, this is a huge change.
With safety as the first priority, we adapt to each new piece of information as the world learns more about COVID. The protocols we have make us feel confident that we are protecting our team and our partners.