June 29, 2020

Implications of Covid19

HYDROPHIL Business continuity

HYDROPHIL GmbH is fully operational, and like in many other organisations, our staff continues to work remotely to maintain an office presence of 50%. As a globally operating consulting company, the company is well equipped for this situation, since it has always had an excellent IT and communication environment that ensures comfort in working from anywhere outside the main offices in Vienna. In response to COVID19, to ensure the best possible working conditions, HYDROPHIL has provided all employees with full workstations at the office and home.

HYDROPHIL puts the health and safety of its staff at the forefront and complies with the government rules and regulations that have been put in place to contain the pandemic.

Since the 16th of March, 2020, HYDROPHIL has enabled all employees to work remotely. Since the beginning of May, employees have started to work part-time from office, while office attendance has been reduced to a maximum of half the occupancy rate and only one person per room. From July, the office occupation rate will be around 70%. Due to these internal measures that were geared towards the safety and health of staff, business continuity could be maintained since the onset of the pandemic.

Of course, the COVID19 pandemic is affecting HYDROPHIL’s business, and working approaches had to be adjusted. This is mainly because of the international travel restrictions and the risks involved. Through its established working relationships with national experts and partners and trough increased efforts to engage and communicate from afar, HYDROPHIL was able to ascertain that all projects continue to be implemented. Although the circumstances required revisions of work plans and budgets, none of the projects were significantly delayed or interrupted.

Covid19 implications on implementation of water, sanitation and hygiene projects

The relevance of the water, sanitation and hygiene interventions is even more recognised during the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic. The sectors in many countries have initiated a response phase and need to continue to embrace the new context from a mid-term perspective. This underlines the importance of combining infrastructure development with continuous effort to uphold promotion of desired behaviour change – at household, institutional level and especially water and sanitation service providers. There is a need for analysing how ongoing initiatives should be adjusted to increase resilience and how to design future interventions to boost the countries preparedness and to protect the communities that are at high-risk and most vulnerable.

While adjusting to the new circumstances in project implementation, it is essential to bear in mind the following principles outlined below:

Central is the alignment to the need expressed by government and sector coordination to amplify the work of those overseeing the response rather than creating parallel structures. Well established sector coordination frameworks are conducive for this endeavour and that hard work to establish these pays off in unfavourable implementation conditions caused by this current pandemic. Additional measures to strengthen national partner’s capacity to coordinate should be supported if needed. Our experts have been supporting our clients in many countries to ensure alignment.

Do No Harm is another important principle. HYDROPHIL takes the concern for health and safety further to any international or national expert engaged in our projects. Adherence to foreign and domestic guidance is critical in any project activity, for instance, when participating in any form of physical meeting – social distancing and hygiene rules need to be observed. “Do no harm” does not stop there and will also be investigated as an essential principle while supporting our clients.

We are no COVID-19 health specialists, but experts within the water, sanitation, and the environment sector with an understanding of how to support utilities, communities and governmental organisations in response to COVID19. With further training for our staff, we embrace this topic that is going to stay with us for a while.