COVID-19 cloth masks: protecting vulnerable communities in Sierra Leone and Guinea-Bissau

Kimberley Perry Kimberley Perry Senior Engineer,Copenhagen
22 June 2020

Among the most disenfranchised communities around the world, it is almost impossible to uphold physical distancing and apply the strict hygiene measures required to prevent the spread of COVID-19. With a weak healthcare infrastructure and cramped living and working conditions across many countries, the COVID-19 pandemic poses significant health and economic threat across Africa. 


Covid-19 response in Kenema District Covid-19 response in Kenema District

Engineers without Borders - Denmark (EWB-DK) aims to provide basic life-improving engineering services to local communities in many countries through long term local partnerships and projects focusing on sustainable technical solutions.

In West Africa, EWB-DK is driving an initiative to minimise risk for the most vulnerable communities of Guinea-Bissau and Sierra Leone, looking to locally produce and distribute around 100,000 face masks to help combat the spread of COVID-19.  

The face masks will be distributed together with soap, food-packages, as well as advice on how to prevent the disease from spreading. Issuing essential protective equipment with essential information could be crucial to reduce the spread of COVID-19 across both countries. 


How you can help

EWB – DK’s initiative is expected to protect the lives of vulnerable communities and generate income in both locations through the local procurement and production of reusable cloth masks. 

Each mask costs $1 to produce and distribute and will provide important income to local tailors. $100.000 needs to be raised to make this initiative happen. 

Find out more about this project and how you can donate/get involved here

Building a better tomorrow

EWB aims to build technical competences for local residents across their partner countries, ensuring disadvantaged communities get real benefits from these capacity-building initiatives. 

The West Africa COVID-19 Cloth Mask initiative is the result of close cooperation between EWB-DK and the University of Southern Denmark (SDU). Having worked extensively in Africa, both organizations have access to reliable, well-known local partners in Sierra Leone and Guinea-Bissau, allowing for fast and efficient interventions. 

Community Engagement allows us to apply our expertise in new and challenging ways.

Explore our community engagement work

Arup is a strategic partner of Engineers without Borders (EWB) in Europe since 2017, working to improve quality of life and build capacity in disadvantaged communities. Arup and EWB have worked together in Ireland, Italy, Netherlands and, more recently, Denmark, on a range of education and sustainable engineering projects. This collaborative partnership enables both Arup and EWB to increase the volume and impact of community engagement projects and, ultimately, to ‘Shape A Better World’.

Covid-19 response in Kenema District Covid-19 response in Kenema District