An additional 500,000 face masks will be produced as part of a renewed COVID-19 response effort launched under the leadership of H.E. Vice President Rebecca Nyandeng De Mabior in Juba on Wednesday May 12, 2021. With support from UNDP and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the new production is part of continued efforts to prevent and control the spread of COVID-19 in South Sudan.
“Although there may be signs of easing global COVID-19 restrictions, our office remains dedicated to providing communities across the country with simple yet effective protective resources, such as face masks, handwashing stations and soap, that can help in slowing the spread of this deadly disease,” said H.E. Vice President Rebecca Nyandeng De Mabior, who also announced the launch of a liquid soap making pilot project as part of COVID-19 response during the ceremony at Dr. John Garang International School, which houses the production facilities.
“The face masks made here are made by South Sudanese for South Sudanese,” H.E. VP Nyandeng emphasized.
H.E. Jelte Van Wieren, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to South Sudan, spoke at the launch event and highlighted the importance of the face mask and soap production. H.E. Van Wieren also underscored the importance of encouraging one another to get vaccinated against COVID-19, when available: “To fight this pandemic, we need to reach a ratio of 7 to 10,” he said.
With support from UNDP and other national and international partners, nearly 2 million face masks have been produced and distributed free of charge to front line service workers, persons with disabilities, prisons, marketplaces, protection of civilian sites (POCs), and other vulnerable populations in South Sudan. Previous face mask distribution by UNDP and UNICEF was supported by USAID/Bureau of Humanitarian Affairs, Sweden, Canada, and the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Face masks reduce exposure and risk of contracting COVID-19 and facilitate uninterrupted service delivery.
“This initiative has shown that South Sudan has the local capacity and ingenuity to produce the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE). I am grateful that partners have recognized the value of local capacities and potential through their partnerships in locally producing masks – not just in infection prevention and control but as an initiative contributing to local economic recovery, resilience building and reconstructing social fabric,” said UNDP Resident Representative Samuel Doe.
The face mask initiative currently provides income to 184 persons in Juba and Torit, 80 percent of whom are women. At peak production levels, more than 700 people contributed and earned income from their efforts. The initiative brings together tailoring trainees; skilled local artisans impacted by closures of non-essential businesses; trainers, vulnerable youths, demobilized youths, refuges, returnees, and in some areas, even prisons officers, in a bid to stop the spread of the virus.
Deng Dau Acuoth, director of the Juba face mask production center at Dr. John Garang International School, emphasized the impact of the initiative on young people: “We are yet to unlock the ingenuity of youth in South Sudan. In other countries, young people are in labs, building robots and finding solutions to the country’s problems. Young people all you have ever known is war, anger and suffering but you have seen [through this initiative] that there are people who care. As we do our part, your job is to put your mind at work.”
Guidelines to make face masks yourself can be found on the website of CDC.