Promote safe mask use: The WHO currently recommends that in densely populated settings, such as camps and camp-like settings, non-medical fabric face masks should be used by the population. Decisions about recommending fabric mask use in camps or camp-like settings should also be aligned to national government guidelines. If producing or purchasing fabric masks, make sure to consider the design, fabric used, and the number of layers of fabric. For specific guidance see our article on masks. It’s also important to ensure people have access to sufficient numbers of fabric masks so that they can wear them safely and clean them regularly. We would recommend 3 per person. Make sure to teach people about safe mask use as part of hygiene promotion activities.

Physical distancing: Physical distancing in camps and camp-like settings can be challenging given limited land availability and the density of populations. Concerns related to the inability to physical distance have caused many to speculate that camps and camp-like settings could easily become major sites for COVID-19 transmission. Actions that should be considered to enable physical distancing in camps and camp like settings include:

  • Utilising any vacant nearby land to increase spacing between shelters. This may require advocacy to national governments or camp management.
  • Identifying sites within the camp where people may typically gather (markets, places or worship, schools and child friendly spaces, distribution sites and health care centres) and putting in place physical distancing measures such as cues and demarcations.
  • Stopping any large group activities.
  • Rolling out shielding measures to protect those who are older or have pre-existing conditions.
  • Adapting shelters to make it easier for people to comfortably remain at home.
  • Providing economic and livelihood support so that non-essential travel can be minimised and people can remain at home.
  • Reducing non-essential access to camps and recording the details of those who enter.
  • Set up communication systems so that people can stay in touch without in person interactions.

Ensure protection of the population remains central to the response: Be aware of the broader impacts the COVID-19 pandemic is having on the lives of crisis-affected populations. Any measures introduced in response to COVID-19 may have adverse effects on other daily activities and programmes (e.g. closure of markets and schools, postponement of food distribution, limitation of free movement in and out of sites). Programmes should incorporate an assessment of their potential implications. This should consider gender, protection, livelihoods, well-being and psychosocial needs and other concerns. Programmatic plans may need to change and alternative modalities for providing services or assistance to individuals should be considered.

Community feedback: Where possible, utilise existing community feedback mechanisms or provide a hotline or process for the community to provide feedback and ask questions about COVID-19 and about response programming. All staff, from cleaners to health promoters to managers, should have knowledge of the feedback mechanism and feedback mechanisms should be actively promoted. This could include printing the hotline number on staff t-shirts or vehicles or painting murals on walls with the number.

Image: Men take note of a phone hotline service from a mural developed by Gram Vaani

Want to learn more about COVID-19 programming in camps and camp-like settings?

Editor's note

Author: Lauren D’Mello Guyett

Review: Miriam Harter, Nada Abdelmagid, Tara Vernon, Bruce Spires

Last update: 11.8.2020


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