"This health crisis is a wake-up call", explains Thierry Vandevelde, Veolia Foundation Executive Officer. On World Humanitarian Day, 19 August, the Veolia Foundation looks back at the actions it has put in place to help the most disadvantaged people at the peak of the health crisis.
When dealing with a virus, the most important weapon is water. Not only in relation to drinking clean water of course, but also for washing your hands. And keeping surfaces clean. Having access to water becomes even more vital during a health crisis. On the strength of this knowledge, the Foundation, together with its partners, has been working in the field with vulnerable people – both in France and in several African countries.
Hygiene kits for the homeless
In France, to help the homeless, migrants, squatters and people living in shantytowns to protect themselves from Covid-19, the Veolia Foundation joined forces with Croix-Rouge Insertion*, Solidarités Internationales and Médecins du Monde.
3,600 hygiene kits have been distributed to people living on the streets who have been further weakened by the pandemic and lockdown measures. The Veolia Foundation has also installed temporary access to the water network and drinking water supply ramps in Roma and migrant camps on the outskirts of Paris, in Seine-Saint-Denis.
Accommodation: a much-needed respite
In addition to the measures put in place by the Foundation, Group employees are also taking action: in Lyon, for example, the Veolia Campus in Jonage, one of Veolia's four training sites in France, provided 55 individual housing units to accommodate isolated and vulnerable people during the lockdown. With the association Le MAS (Mouvement d’Action Sociale, specializing in support for vulnerable or excluded groups), this initiative offered beneficiaries a respite: a heated dwelling, equipped with individual showers, a dining room and green spaces.
Supplying drinking water to Guayaquil's shantytowns
In Ecuador, Veolia supplied drinking water to 150,000 families in the shantytowns of the city of Guayaquil - the epicentre of the epidemic in the country - by means of a daily tanker truck round under the Sinai Water Project. Veolia also provides hazardous hospital waste collection free of charge, treats hazardous waste from a 300-bed field hospital free of charge, and distributes food baskets to the poorest families.
Coping with food and social distress
In Cameroon, alongside the International Association of Francophone Mayors (AIMF), the Foundation is supporting the city of Bangangté in its fight against the spread of the virus by installing standpipes and hand-washing facilities in Bangangté and its 13 villages in the western region, increasing the number of staff and the amount of protective equipment in hospitals, supporting farmers deprived of outlets for their produce, delivering food baskets for villagers facing shortages, and training young people affected by the lockdown who have been learning how to make soap...
Restoring water supplies for 270,000 people
In the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the city of Uvira was flooded at the end of April.
Regideso, in charge of the public drinking water service, asked the Veolia Foundation, which has been involved in a program to combat cholera in the region for the past ten years, to restore the drinking water supply and so prevent the population from using the water from Lake Tanganyika, which is contaminated with cholera. The drinking water treatment plant has been put back into operation, and a new raw water catchment point on the Mulongwe River has restored access to water for 270,000 people, thereby protecting them from a cholera epidemic.
* A branch of the French Red Cross
For more than 20 years, the Veolia Foundation has been working in emergency health situations. Today, three billion people still have no access to running drinking water (source WHO).