COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the entire world and one of the most effective actions we can take to protect ourselves against the disease is frequent handwashing. While it is simple and cheap for many of us, unfortunately, billions of people are facing difficulty in complying with this safety measure as they don’t have enough water.
Water is highly important for public health as it helps control diseases by maintaining sanitation and proper hygiene. As the world continues to fight against COVID-19, it is clear that people with low access to aqua resources experience more difficulty in preventing the spread of the disease. 40% of the global population; mostly living in secluded areas, slums, and informal settlements, have an insufficient water supply and lack access to handwashing facilities in their homes. In addition, a billion of people who have piped-water in their homes experience regular shutoffs making frequent handwashing difficult or impossible.
To control the spread of COVID-19, governments double their efforts to provide water access and handwashing facilities to communities with an insufficient water supply. They build handwashing stations especially to high-density public places such as bus-stops, markets, restaurants, and taxi queues. They also encourage establishments like apartment blocks, groceries, and banks to place a portable handwashing station or provide hand sanitizers in their entrances.
International organizations like WHO (World Health Organization), UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund), UN-Water (United Nations Water), and Red Cross are also giving assistance especially to urban poor living in slums where people are overcrowded which can speed up the spread of COVID-19. Aside from building handwashing facilities, these international organizations offer technical advice and trainings on how to manage handwashing facilities and disseminate information about COVID-19 especially on how to prevent the spread of the disease.
Resolving the problem of insufficient aqua supply is one of the most effective solutions to stopping the increasing number of COVID-19 victims and create resilient communities. However, the world needs immediate solutions as the virus spreads rapidly. The interventions by governments and international organizations might be temporary solutions to inadequate aqua supply but they are needed and helpful as COVID-19 is not only causing millions of deaths but affecting the economy.
Long-term solutions to water supply problems need long term investments. Governments need capital investments for water treatment which might cause billions of dollars per year as natural aqua from rivers and springs might contain chemicals from agricultural, industrial, and urban wastewater. Governments also have to effectively manage the water resources to prevent a clean water scarcity while allocating enough water for the needs of communities.
Resolving water problems especially for low-income countries can be very difficult but is essential to fight diseases like COVID-19 as well as other common diseases like diarrhea and cholera which also killed millions of people. Access to clean water is every person’s right. It not only protects us from diseases but promotes sanitation and personal hygiene which is important to being healthy and increase our self-esteem.
Water scarcity is worsening not only to informal settlements and countries with poor aqua resources but even to high-income countries. It is becoming difficult to have enough supply for the needs of communities as water pollution is worsening. The increase of our population and building of factories that produces harmful chemically contain waterwaste continue to pollute our resources. Governments are making efforts and spending billions of dollars for water treatment to provide clean water to every household but for how long? For the most of us who are lucky to have clean water in our faucets, we should do our part to reserve our resources. Conserving water is one of the simple way we can do to help.