COVID-19 is a global pandemic that continues to cause hundreds of thousands of deaths, health threats, and economic issues. It instills fear in people and economic threats to governments as the disease is transmitted rapidly and kills thousands of people daily. Community lockdowns and quarantines has been implemented to control the spread of the disease, causing hunger in households and catastrophic effects to economies.
Frequent handwashing and social distancing are strongly advised by the World Health Organization (WHO) and governments to prevent the spread of the disease. However, these actions are difficult or impossible in some areas as they have limited access to clean water and handwashing facilities. For instance in Ghana and Kenya in Africa, where water scarcity remains a major problem, people struggle to comply with the advices as they likely to queue to access or buy water. Residents who spend hours each day waiting in crowded queues for access to water increase their risk of exposure to virus.
The lack of water supply deprives people of the most basic protection needed against the life threatening COVID-19. Improving access to clean and safe water is a key factor in controlling and preventing the disease. It not only allows them to comply with the frequent handwashing advice but also lowers their vulnerability against the disease as they don’t necessarily have to go out and line up in a crowd to have access to water.
Water is essential in controlling and preventing infectious diseases like COVID-19. Therefore, inadequate access to water makes it difficult to stop the transmission of the disease. Moreover, water is essential for hydration, sanitation, hygiene, and food production. Easy access to water will not only aid in the fight against the pandemic but will also resolve other community issues such waterborne illnesses like cholera and diarrhea that kill millions of people, cause hunger and dehydration, a lack of proper toilet facilities, and poor sewage disposal. Access to water will even give economic benefits as people will have more time to work instead of spending hours to have access to water.
Governments should work to provide sufficient water supply for people. Investing in easy access to water is necessary to promote proper hygiene and sanitation which not only protect communities against life threatening diseases but also builds resilience in the health and economic wellbeing of the whole community. In addition, access to water allows communities to have better protection from future pandemics.
Improving water access is a great challenge especially now that we are facing climate change and droughts. Proper management of our natural water resources and water treatment should be done to ensure continued provision of essential water supplies to communities. However, providing easy access to clean and safe water is a big and long-term investment. As of now, government provides temporary but immediate solutions to the insufficient water supply problems of communities by placing water tanks and installing portable handwashing facilities to help control the spread of COVID-19.