Adequate and clean water supply, improved sanitation and hygienic conditions is essential to protecting lives against Corona Virus (COVID-19). Frequent handwashing with soap and water are key to preventing acquisition and spread of COVID-19 besides other measures. 

However, a huge number of people in Sierra Leone still suffer from inadequate access to these basic yet life-saving amenities. This fact coupled with prevailing poor hygiene practices and the current global shortage of essential disease prevention and control supplies renders Sierra Leoneans highly vulnerable population to the disease. 

Spotting the dire need to mobilize local ideas, resources and solutions that assure country-specific response to a global pandemic such as the COVID-19 pandemic prior to Sierra Leone registering her index case,  UNDP’s Accelerator Lab (AccLab) launched a WhatSapp campaign to rally local innovators and map their details from the National Grassroot Solutions Database to prepare and re-position themselves to play pivotal roles in supporting the national response through creative thinking and innovation. 

For COVID-19 response, the AccLab challenged innovators to come up with locally designed products to complement dwindling imported supplies. Consistent also with Goal 17 of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG), UNDP’s partnership with local innovators across Sierra Leone during a pandemic has glitzed a national call to action on the encouragement of local expertise and products to respond to the pandemic. 

With sobering enthusiasm, innovators came up with a range of locally produced samples and prototypes of Infection, Prevention, and Control (IPC) materials including alcohol-based hand rub, liquid soap, face masks, hand gloves, hand washing stations. Some innovators have gone further to venture into the medical field to produce equipment like ventilators. To support the growth of these extra-ordinary ideas to support the fight against COVID-19 and to help further Sierra Leone’s recovery after the pandemic, UNDP plans to support selected innovators to scale-up production of direly essential items to meet current demands. 

The Accelerator Lab Team have also been the liaison between the country office and local producers of IPC products (alcohol-based hand sanitizers and liquid soaps) and equipment (hand washing stations).   Sourcing the most innovative and practical items from local innovators, they have helped both operations and programme teams to identify local suppliers transcending the procurement difficulties presented by COVID-19. 

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