Water challenge: clean water for hand washing

Water challenge: clean water for hand washing

One of the most effective ways to slow down transmission of Coronavirus (COVID-19) is to wash or sanitize our hands. However, 4.2 billion, or 55% of the world’s population, do not have access to even basic hand washing facilities at home. Lack of access to clean water affects vulnerability to disease and ill health. It is especially acute among those living in extreme poverty in rural areas, as well as in informal urban settlements.

According to the latest UN World Water Development Report, climate change will affect the availability, quality and quantity of water needed for basic human needs, thus undermining enjoyment of the basic rights to safe drinking water and sanitation for billions of people.

“It is really worrying to see that Sustainable Development Goal 6, which focuses on clean water and sanitation, is so far off track now,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. “Especially against the background of the Coronavirus pandemic, it is alarming to recall that 3 billion people worldwide lack basic handwashing facilities. This is not acceptable in 21 century,” Mr Taalas said.

One of the most effective ways to slow down transmission is to wash and sanitize our hands. However, 4.2 billion, or 55% of the world’s population, do not have access to even basic hand washing facilities at home.

Water use has increased sixfold over the past century and is rising by about 1% a year. However, it is estimated that climate change, along with the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme events – storms, floods and droughts, will aggravate the situation in countries already currently experiencing ‘water stress’ and generate similar problems in areas that have not been severely affected. Furthermore, the report highlights the fact that poor water management tends to exacerbate the impacts of climate change, not only on water resources but on society as a whole.