COVID-19 Guidance and Awareness

Update: July 14, 2021

Water Team Travel Guidance

With the increased availability to COVID vaccines across the US, teams have begun planning or, in a few instances, already made face-to-face visits with their partners in other countries.

 

Before booking a flight to visit your partners, Living Waters for the World (LWW) strongly encourages you to consider weighing the risk of a face-to-face visit to your partners and network staff before traveling. Many countries have inconsistent access to COVID vaccines with elongated vaccination timelines for the general population and a continuing lack of access to adequate/complex health care, especially in rural areas.
 

We remind you that this is not only about how well you are protected. We are privileged in the US to have access to unparalleled medical care and the financial resources to obtain it. Many of our partners do not have physical access to advanced health care in their communities and a trip to the hospital can be financially devastating to them. 
 

Also, as new variants of the coronavirus emerge the efficacy of vaccines in preventing the transmission of COVID-19 or preventing a vaccinated person from contracting the virus is not guaranteed at this time. Some vaccines lessen the impact of the virus on infected people; some vaccines prevent infection, but do not prevent the inoculated person from being a carrier; some vaccines prevent both infection and transmission of the virus - unfortunately, we may not know which vaccine a person received.
 

Therefore, we strongly recommend that teams consider not traveling until 2022, and instead utilize the virtual capabilities of the networks for interacting with your Operating Partner. In 2020 and 2021, we have had successful virtual engagements that resulted in purified water flowing in new communities in El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, and the Yucatan, rehabilitation of some systems as well as virtual in-country partner conferences.

 

In addition, many countries are experiencing social unrest that can make travel unsafe for teams. The unrest is rooted in political change in some areas and in dire economic circumstances in others and dangerous situations can arise with little to no warning.
 

If, however, you decide it is critical to meet with your partner in-person, LWW encourages you to keep the following in mind:
 

  • Review any State Department travel advisories and check with your network moderator regarding conditions specific to the area in which you will be traveling.

  • Is the benefit of a face-to-face meeting worth risking the health of your partner community or your team being stranded in a foreign country?

  • Minimize the number of people going on the visit as many areas may have limited resources to host guests. Check ahead to see what lodging and food options are available in the area to which you are planning to travel. Some familiar places may have gone out of business during the pandemic.

  • Often, your Operating Partner does not have 100% control over who shows up to a meeting, a health education session, an installation, or a follow-up visit. You may be vaccinated against COVID but how many of your partners or other members of their community are?  Your visit could inadvertently produce an environment conducive to the spread of the virus in a community.

  • Many of our in-country staff and/or translators and drivers are not yet eligible for a vaccine or have received 1 dose. LWW has asked our in-country resources to not put themselves or their families at risk, so you may not be able to receive the same level of support as on pre-COVID visits.

  • Many authorities require a negative COVID test result within 72 hours of entering their country. The United States currently requires a negative COVID test within 72 hours before boarding a return flight from many countries where LWW has systems (even if you have been vaccinated) – and specific tests may be required. Incorrect or missing tests may result in delays and/or quarantine enforcement.

  • Many countries still have mandatory 14-day enforced quarantines when arriving in country if you do not meet their current COVID guidelines/restrictions.

 

Remember, before making travel reservations:

  • Please contact your Network Coordinating team to see if they have additional information related to conditions in your travel area: that travel to a community is safe, and most importantly, agreed to by your Operating Partner and their water committee (who are representatives of their community).

  • Confirm the availability of network staff to accompany you (if desired).

  • Consider purchasing trip insurance given the volatility of the environment in many countries. Be sure to verify under what conditions the insurance is binding. For example, some policies do not provide cancellation coverage if there is social or political unrest confined to a specific department/state.

 

Have questions or concerns about this guidance?  Please contact Jeff Wagner, LWW Director of Operations, at jeff@livingwatersfortheworld.org or at 615-261-4008, Ext 3.

Update: February 18, 2021

Teams Considering Traveling in 2021 - COVID Guidance

The announcement of COVID vaccine availability at the end of 2020 has left many teams hopeful that they can resume international travel and visit their partners. Living Waters for the World (LWW) strongly encourages you to consider weighing the risk of a face-to-face visit with your partners, network staff and other team members who may not be eligible/able to be vaccinated.
 

Please keep in mind that this is not just about how well you are protected. We are privileged in the US to have access to medical care and the financial resources to obtain it. Many of our partners do not have physical access to advanced health care in their communities and a trip to the hospital can be financially devastating to them. 
 

As for vaccines, their efficacy in preventing the transmission of COVID 19 is not completely understood, nor guaranteed at this time. Some vaccines lessen the impact of the virus on infected people; some vaccines prevent infection, but do not prevent the inoculated person from being a carrier; some vaccines both prevent infection and transmitting the virus - unfortunately we may not know which vaccine a person received.
 

Therefore, we strongly recommend that teams not travel in-country until the second half of 2021 at the earliest, and instead utilize the virtual capabilities of the networks for interacting with your Operating Partner. In 2020 we had successful virtual engagements that resulted in purified water flowing in new communities in El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras and the Yucatan.
 

If, however, you decide it is critical to meet with your partner in-person, LWW encourages you to keep the following in mind:
 

  • Is the benefit of a face-to-face meeting worth risking the health of your partner community or your team being stranded in a foreign country?

  • Often, your Operating Partner does not have 100% control over who shows up to a meeting, a health-education session, an installation or a follow-up trip. You may be vaccinated against COVID but how many of your partners or other members of their community are?  Your visit could inadvertently produce an environment conducive to the spread of the virus in a community

  • Our in-country staff and/or translators and drivers may not be able to receive a vaccine. LWW has asked our in-country resources to not put themselves or their families at risk, so you may not receive the same level of support as on pre-COVID visits

  • Many authorities require a negative COVID test result within 72 hours of entering their country. The United States currently requires a negative COVID test within 72 hours before boarding a return flight from many countries where LWW has systems – and specific tests may be required

  • Some countries still have mandatory 14-day enforced quarantines when arriving in country
     

If your team decides a trip is warranted, please confirm with your Network Coordinating team that travel to a community is possible, safe, and most importantly, agreed to by your Operating Partner and their water committee (who are representatives of their community), and as well, the availability of network staff to accompany you (if desired) before making travel arrangements.
 

Have questions or concerns about this guidance?  Please contact Jeff Wagner, LWW Director of Operations, at jeff@livingwatersfortheworld.org or at 615-261-4008, Ext 3.

Update: April 17, 2020

The directors at Living Waters for the World (LWW) held a live webinar "Supporting Water Partnerships through Unprecedented Times: An LWW Update." If you missed it, see the details below to view the webinar recording. Also feel free to share it with others. If you have any questions after viewing the webinar, send us an email and let us know. 
 

The purpose of this webinar was to connect with our water teams and supporters to share how COVID-19 is impacting the mission we have been called to and how we and our partners are responding.

We focused on:

  • Challenges and opportunities

  • Next steps

  • Answering your questions

  • Resources for connecting and staying up to date


Click here for the webinar recording. The access password is: J1!1N4@+

webinar_thumb.jpg

Update: March 19, 2020

Level 4: Do Not Travel

The Department of State advises U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19. In countries where commercial departure options remain available, U.S. citizens who live in the United States should arrange for immediate return to the United States, unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period. U.S. citizens who live abroad should avoid all international travel. Many countries are experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and implementing travel restrictions and mandatory quarantines, closing borders, and prohibiting non-citizens from entry with little advance notice. Airlines have cancelled many international flights and several cruise operators have suspended operations or cancelled trips. If you choose to travel internationally, your travel plans may be severely disrupted, and you may be forced to remain outside of the United States for an indefinite time frame.

 

Update: March 18, 2020

 

LWW recommends that teams look to reschedule all in-country travel to later in 2020, or possibly early 2021 due to the continuing spread of the COVID-19 around the world. While many countries are effectively addressing infections within their own borders, we do not want to add to the growing pandemic (even though we have the best intentions for our partners) and unintentionally place additional strains on healthcare resources in other countries.

 

Teams still considering travel should check the State Department COVID-19 Advisory page for travel bans or quarantine restrictions before leaving home/planning a trip: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/COVID-19-Country-Specific-Information.html

 

Any teams choosing to travel during this time must consider that conditions can change rapidly and plan for the possibility that they could be quarantined in-country or denied exit for an extended period of time 14 – 30 days.