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Home / India News / Coronavirus underscores importance of clean water

Coronavirus underscores importance of clean water

The novel coronavirus pandemic underscores that clean water is a form of the right to life. But we can’t address this problem without a shift in how global consumption works today.

india Updated: Mar 16, 2020 08:39 IST
Bharti Chaturvedi
Bharti Chaturvedi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Approximately 844 million people globally don’t still get access to clean water.
Approximately 844 million people globally don’t still get access to clean water.

They tell us exercise makes it easier to face illness and surgery as we age. It’s a good parallel to make with water in the time of coronavirus.

Everyone is being asked to wash their hands to prevent infection. But what do you tell those approximately 844 million people globally who don’t still get access to clean water? In India alone, according to NGO Water-Aid’s statistics from 2018, this number is about 163 million. In Nigeria, it’s 59 million. This enhances their risk of Covid-19, because they can’t be part of the prescribed basic hygiene.

The novel coronavirus pandemic underscores that clean water is a form of the right to life. But we can’t address this problem without a shift in how global consumption works today.

What we make, eat and wear can play an important role. When water is diverted for commercial needs, the poor get less water, and everyone gets more unclean water. Large water footprints must be shrunk, collaboratively, globally. If you can get people to sit at home, you can also ask them to live differently. At the heart of this, however, is political intent. Nothing else can fight inequity better than our politicians making this their priority.

Other pandemics, droughts, heatwaves and unpredictable big crises will come our way on a changing planet. Ensuing everyone has minimum clean water will help people better survive these catastrophes. This is an important tool in our arsenal. The point is, will we acknowledge it?

(The writer is the founder and director of Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group)