The hygiene of communal areas and facilities will need to be strictly maintained during the COVID-19 response as surfaces can contribute to the transmission of COVID-19. Cleaning and disinfection of surfaces at communal facilities such as toilets, showers, water points and distribution points should be done as frequently as possible or at least daily. It is particularly important to clean taps, door handles or other high-touch surfaces. In order to enable this cleaning the following should be considered:

  • Where cleaning teams exist within camps already, they may need to modify or increase their duties. This may necessitate increased payment, the need to employ more staff and the need to provide them with additional training.
  • Where cleaning teams do not exist within camps, then other WASH-related committees or groups should be used (such as pump operators, water-user committees, sanitation cleaners, service crews, garbage disposal crews and waste management staff).
  • A cleaning roster could be established or each individual user could be given the ability to clean surfaces after use.
  • Cleaning staff should be provided with PPE such as gloves, boots, goggles, face masks/shields and have access to handwashing facilities or sanitizer.
  • PPE should be used while cleaning and hand hygiene should be practiced before and after removing PPE. Clean reusable PPEs with disinfectant. Sterilize then safely dispose of greywater or water from washing PPE, surfaces and floors.
  • All surfaces in communal toilets, bathrooms, and showers should be cleaned with detergent and 0.5% sodium hypochlorite at least once a day.

Surface-based transmission can also be reduced by increasing handwashing facilities at these communal points and putting systems in place to regularly replenish the soap and water. Similarly, cleaning solid waste from areas and maintaining existing rubbish management systems are important, particularly since people will be needing to dispose of used PPE.

For further guidance see this UNHCR guidance and our resource on PPE for sanitation workers.

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: 18.9.2020

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