A member of the Libya Red Crescent branch in Bani Walid is disinfecting shops in the city. Photo: ‎‎©Bani Walid Municipality‎

As a step to respond to the threat of COVID-19 in all regions of Libya, authorities took a set of decisions, including disinfection and cleaning campaigns for streets and municipal facilities, testing people who may have been affected by the coronavirus,  and distributing medical supplies to all health facilities in the country.

In March 2020, when the Libyan government declared a state of emergency in all parts of the country, Bani Walid Municipality implemented precautionary measures to protect the city from the threat of COVID-19.

“During the first 25 days, we locked down the city, launched disinfection campaigns in all streets and outskirts of the city, and put in place 24-hour security and health patrols,'' says Mr. Muhamed Mubarek, Deputy Chairperson of Bani Walid Municipal Council.

A city with a lot of transit

Bani Walid, located in the south of Tripoli, is linked to several cities, therefore, the risk for people to contract the coronavirus is high as the city experiences heavy transit.

''The rate of people being affected by the virus was expected to be very high due to the strategic location of the city; it links the East with the West and the North with the South. In addition, it has a heavy crossing and trade movements with a population of over 150,000 including host community, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), and migrants,'' declares Mr. Ayman Al-Hawadi, Director of Public Health Department in Bani Walid.

Joining local efforts to face the new health threat

Ms Moufida Al-Falaq, Head of the Women's Unit in the Bani Walid Red Crescent hangs up a poster ‎which describes measures people should take to prevent Covid-19. Photo: ©Bani Walid Red ‎Crescent

Local authorities in Bani Walid called upon all the spheres of the society to team up with them in the fight against the new health threat.

''The action plan was to have a rapid response to prevent COVID-19 threat. We activated a 24/h system in 21 healthcare centers and equipped them with medical supplies to treat affected patients if there were any, '' declares Mr. Ayman Al-Hawadi, Director of Public Health Department in Bani Walid.

Ms. Moufida Al-Falaq, Head of the Women's Unit in the Bani Walid Red Crescent, says: "Our team worked to help the local authority to tackle the virus. We activated a public awareness campaign on local radio stations and we also distributed posters throughout the city with information about COVID-19 and the prevention measures people should take."

“Many local and international actors such as the General Company for Cleaning Services, Health Sector, Public Health Department, Civil Society Organizations, and the Red Crescent, contributed to awareness campaigns through radio stations and social media despite the limited capacities and the ongoing conflict,'' declares Muhamed Mubarek.

Already equipped by the Stabilization Facility for Libya

Led by national and municipal Libyan institutions, and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with support from 13 international partners and the Government of Libya, The Stabilization Facility for Libya (SFL) provides quick rehabilitation of critical infrastructure and delivers equipment to help local authorities across the country to improve basic services for the people.

Providing such basic, vital services is key for local authorities to meeting people needs in Libya and it contributes to peace among communities, allowing people to look ahead for greater security, dignity and opportunities.

Before the outbreak of the pandemic, UNDP had already implemented several projects in Bani Walid through the SFL, including delivery of equipment and renovation of basic infrastructures. The Facility rehabilitated the medical storage of Bani Walid Health Sector and handed over it in October 2018. 

Local authorities in Bani Walid called upon all the spheres of the society to team up with them in the fight against the new health threat.

''The action plan was to have a rapid response to prevent COVID-19 threat. We activated a 24/h system in 21 healthcare centres and equipped them with medical supplies to treat affected patients if there were any, '' declares Mr Ayman Al-Hawadi, Director of Public Health Department in Bani Walid.

Ms Moufida Al-Falaq, Head of the Women's Unit in the Bani Walid Red Crescent, says: "Our team worked to help the local authority to tackle the virus. We activated a public awareness campaign on local radio stations and we also distributed posters throughout the city with information about COVID-19 and the prevention measures people should take."

“Many local and international actors such as the General Company for Cleaning Services, Health Sector, Public Health Department, Civil Society Organizations, and the Red Crescent, contributed to awareness campaigns through radio stations and social media despite the limited capacities and the ongoing conflict,'' declares Muhamed Mubarek.

 

A worker is about to give a medicine to a patient at the pharmacy of the medical store in Bani Walid. Photo: ©UNDP ‎Libya/Malek Elmaghrebi

Today, the medical facility allows the health sector in the city not only to keep medical supplies in safe conditions, but also to provide 21 health centers in the municipality with necessary protective equipment and other supplies to help the staff  take care of patients who may have acquired COVID-19.  

''When the state of emergency started in the country, we received medical supplies from the Government and other partners. Supplies were kept on medical stores that were recently rehabilitated by SFL. In fact, before the rehabilitation works, the stores were in a bad shape and unusable. Today, they are helping the health sector a lot to keep safely medicines, supplies and equipment, '' says Aymen. ''We even managed to open the central pharmacy that provides medicine for free to people in Bani Walid,'' he adds.

One of the ambulances delivered by SFL is helping a mobile medical team to monitor disinfection campaigns in the city. ‎Photo: ©Bani Walid Municipality

The health sector in Bani Walid also received three ambulances and several generators.  The support allowed the authorities to improve services such as transferring patients in critical condition from various locations to the General Hospital. In times of coronavirus pandemic, these ambulances are on standby and ready to intervene in case of emergency.

"Mobile medical support teams with ambulances were deployed in most areas of the city to supervise disinfection operations in coordination with the General Company for Cleaning Services. The Ambulance Services also were prepared and stationed the vehicles in various areas of the city, ready in case a rapid response was needed," explains Ayman.

Bani Walid local authorities were facing a challenge of managing public hygiene and keeping the city clean. With SFL support, they received two garbage trucks to help collect street garbage, one suction truck to help the sewage company to perform in better conditions and two mobile insecticide sprayers.

A worker from the General Company for Cleaning Services disinfects public offices in Bani Walid. Photo: ©Bani Walid ‎Municipality

During COVID-19, that equipment helped to stop the spread of the pandemic.

"After consulting and coordinating with the Municipality, we took over the process of spraying disinfectants in different parts of the city and its suburbs, for example in streets and public and private institutions," states Mr. Mustafa Abu Zaid, Director of the General Company for Cleaning Services in Bani Walid. "We also worked to collect waste from streets and organize the disposal process. The campaign lasted for 25 days. The technical and administrative teams were fully committed to carry it out successfully, " he adds.

Bani Walid ready to face future health challenges

"We are now ready at any time to take actions when there is any threat that requires our response. Our plan for the next period includes disinfection of the most frequently visited public places such as mosques and schools to be ready when they reopen," states Ayman.

"UNDP’s SFL supports to Bani Walid contributed a lot on the ground to address the COVID-19 threat in the city. This would have been very difficult if we did not get this support. It really saved the city," explained Muhamed.

 "All that has been delivered to the [Cleaning Services] company is working with high efficiency and contributing to provide  better services to residents in the city, whether before the pandemic, during COVID-19 campaigns, or even in the future, and we will be always ready to respond, " says  Mustafa.

"We are grateful to those who provided support to the city of Bani Walid and its people. I would like to thank SFL, UNDP Libya and the partners for contributing to making the life better in the city, " Muhamed states.

Through SFL, UNDP delivered two garbage trucks, three ambulances, one suction truck, nine generators, 17 water pumps and 2000 m high voltage cables to the energy sector. It rehabilitated eight schools and one medical store. Future support will include renovation of Bani Walid University and the General Hospital, supply of four dental chairs, two refrigerated cars and four water pumps.

"In the Women's Unit in the Bani Walid Red Crescent, we provide and distribute free gloves to small shops, and we make sure that they use them continuously. Now we are planning to manufacture masks and distribute them to medical staff and visitors in the hospitals and health centers, concludes Ms. Moufida Al-Falaq.

Ms. Moufida Al-Falaq prepares stickers to post in different public and private facilities in Bani Walid. Photo: ©Bani ‎Walid Red Crescent
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