Our team is proud to have been serving on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. We recognized early on that a multi-faceted approach would be necessary to support the communities we work with and stop the spread of the virus. In addition to coordinating with the Indian Health Service (IHS) to support contact tracing, COVID-19 testing and vaccination events, we have been a trusted source of material relief.
In order to meet the urgent needs of families in quarantine/isolation and under community lockdown, we strengthened partnerships with amazing organizations such as World Central Kitchen, CORE, With Love From Strangers, Partnership with Native Americans and Baby2Baby, as well as with our tribal partners. These organizations sourced supplies from far and wide, including food, water, household cleaning supplies, diapers, baby formula, hygiene products and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). We scaled up our local Native workforce to more than 250 team members, which included hiring many “Community Connectors” from the areas we serve, who took charge of organizing, packaging and delivering large volumes of these necessities to families in need, including in rural areas left stranded by other relief efforts.
Water Access Initiatives on the Navajo Nation
Water access is a long-standing issue on the Navajo Nation: it is estimated that between 15-40% of homes do not have piped water. This results in a range of increased health risks, including limited access to hand washing and greater reliance on sugar-sweetened beverages. While the pandemic aggravated the severity of problems related to water access, it also raised the visibility of this issue to a national level and has resulted in a much greater level of coordination among partners in the public, private and nonprofit sectors as well as increased resources to create long-term solutions. Beyond the pandemic, JHCAIH is involved in a number of initiatives to address this issue:
- Water delivery––We deliver water to young mothers and babies to support family health and early child growth.
- Tribal Partnerships––We are members of Navajo Nation’s Water Access Coordination Group, which consists of 20 entities working to develop sustainable solutions to water security.
- Hand Washing Stations––Throughout the pandemic, we have worked with the Navajo Epidemiology Center, IHS and regional partners to build and distribute portable hand washing stations to households that lack running water. These basic, inexpensive stations are built with supplies available locally or purchased from nearby lumber stores.
- Hydropanels––We are pilot testing innovative “hydropanels” for homes, which generate clean, safe drinking water from the air using solar power. Each hydropanel generates on average one gallon of water per day, with an eight-gallon reservoir, delivered directly into the home.
- Water Filters––We have partnered with Waves 4 Water, a nonprofit organization dedicated to worldwide clean water access, to distribute portable in-home water filters on the Navajo Nation.