If we know one thing for certain, frequent handwashing is the most basic defense mechanism against the spread of COVID-19. But, a quarter of the world’s population lacks access to a reliable water supply. The pandemic has enhanced awareness of both the extent and consequences of this access gap.
With a few exclusions, the spread of COVID-19 is projected to slow down funds in the water sector globally. These active needs stem from changes in demand patterns, supply disruptions, and the various emergency measures employed by governments to cope with the pandemic. According to IFC, the world’s poorest received the COVID-19 shock on top of existing major urban water and sanitation services shortages, all pointing towards a potentially overwhelming burden to contain the virus. Lack of access, consistency, and the quality of water, sanitation, and hygiene present threats in developing countries. Large cities also face risks stemming from population density and informal settlements.
Water quality across communities is another area potentially affected by the pandemic. There are reports of improved water quality, for instance in Venice, during quarantine periods. However, the net effect of the pandemic on surface water quality is unclear at this time and will be impacted by near-term food supply, energy generation, and industrial processing trends during the recovery.
We must keep in mind that having access to not only wash our hands, but drink is a privilege that is not provided everywhere around the world. Although, washing your hands and following the necessary guidelines is a part of being resilient and safe be mindful of the amount of water being used.