Our water station in Central Market with Red Cross Volunteer

One of our new water stations

Goal 6: Clean Water and Sanitation

HOW #TOGETHERBAND AND HARPIC ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE 

We’ve joined forces with the Red Cross and Rotoplas to combat the sanitation crisis in Mexico City and help stop the spread of COVID-19 

By EMMA ELMS
8 FEBRUARY 2021

As we continue to battle one of the worst pandemics in history, the message is clear: aside from the vaccine, the best way to protect yourself and others from the virus is regular handwashing, but what if you’re in the 29% of people worldwide who don’t have clean running water at home*? In Mexico, over half the population doesn’t, so it’s no coincidence that it’s one of the countries worst affected by COVID-19. There have been over 1.9 million cases in Mexico so far and over 160,000 deaths from the virus, with figures rising at an alarming rate.

 

‘It’s the worst health crisis we’ve had in the last 100 years,’ says Alejandro Muguerza Limón, who works for the Mexican Red Cross. ‘This is something new to everyone, every day we learn how to deal with it. Unfortunately, our country is still a bit sceptical despite the reality that we are living in and that

means that all of us who work in the health field have to double our efforts.’

Here at #TOGETHERBAND, we wanted to help. Every day, thousands of Mexicans flock to a vast food market, the Central de Abasto (‘Central Market’), one of biggest wholesale markets in the world and the linchpin of the capital’s food supply. Spanning an area the equivalent of 327 football pitches, it’s traditionally been a much-loved meeting point for producers, retailers and shoppers for the entire country, but with 90,000 workers and 450,000 daily visitors lining the corridors, the market has become a dangerous COVID-19 hotspot. Urgent action was needed to prevent more lives being lost.

Stalls at Central de Abasto, Mexico

Central de Abasto, Mexico

Testing saves lives

Along with Harpic, the world’s leading cleaning brand, we’ve been working with a coalition of partners to deliver a comprehensive prevention and healthcare programme in the market. The Red Cross set up a fully equipped mobile hospital on site for nearly a month, conducting around 1000 COVID tests in total, on average 50 a day. Of these, 102 were positive (around 10 per cent). At the time Mexico City had an R rate of 1.96, so the Red Cross effectively saved nearly 200 more people from catching the virus.

 

A team of Red Cross volunteers, wearing full PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), also delivered vital safety messages throughout the market, teaching the public about COVID-19 prevention measures, and giving out face masks and packs of hand sanitising gel to workers and shoppers.


Red Cross test centre and volunteers

Red Cross test centre and volunteers

Handwashing is vital

We also teamed up with Rotoplas (a Mexican company offering water-based solutions) who recently built two permanent handwashing stations in high-risk zones within the market and installed two anti-bacterial gel dispensers, jointly funded by Harpic and #TOGETHERBAND. In a country where water is scarce, these hygiene stations will play a crucial part in helping protect the public from COVID-19.


‘We realised there are many people who don’t have running water at home – no matter how much they want to wash their hands, they can’t,’ explains Alejandro Muguerza Limón from the Red Cross. ‘Installing these hygiene stations will help a lot to stop the spread of COVID, both in the market and everywhere else. Soap and water are the only antidote we have so far until the vaccine arrives.’

#TOGETHERLIVE – music for change

This month #TOGETHERLIVE Mexico will raise funds to help us install at least 20 more water stations across Mexico to help protect vulnerable communities. Hosted by #TOGETHERBAND and Harpic, the show will feature the amazing Jesús Navarro, Julio Ramírez and Bibi Marín, otherwise known as REIK, plus special guest supporters who have joined our mission. Watch the show here on togetherband.org/live on 27th February at 7pm CDMX (1am UK time).

REIK, stars of TOGETHERLIVE Mexico

REIK, stars of #TOGETHERLIVE Mexico

Mexico is the second country we’ve shone a spotlight on during the pandemic. In December we held our largest ever global event #TOGETHERLIVE to raise funds for the people of Brazil, in collaboration with Harpic, a company committed to protecting the world’s poorest communities from COVID-19. Last year Harpic delivered 450 tons of bottled water to half a million people in Brazil, plus 25,000 products to disinfect toilets and 75,000 fabric masks to reduce the spread of the virus. More recently in Mexico, Harpic donated a long-term supply of cleaning products to boost hygiene standards in the market’s busy public toilets.

 

Our first #TOGETHERLIVE collaboration in Brazil meant we were able to install a much-needed water station in the Belo Horizonte area, with four more planned for other locations in Brazil, providing long-term access to running water. Now in Mexico, we’re determined to continue this vital work and help change more lives.


A family with our water station in Brazil

A family with our water station in Brazil

*According to 2017 figures we’ve interpreted on ‘safely managed’ water from UNICEF and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

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