20 Jun 3 COVID-19 IMPACTS ON WATER SECTOR FOR SANITATION AND THE EMERGENCY RESPONS
The COVID-19 impacts on water availability indirectly and directly. COVID-19 was occurred in early 2020 and it has claimed many victims until now. Governments in all countries around the world have made various efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19, from implementing hygiene to travel bans. But unfortunately, this virus continues to mutate until the implementation of health protocols is actually not enough to completely destroy COVID-19. However, countries around the world do not despair and continue to develop a series of rules for the sake of the world community to stay safe from the virus.
The 6th Sustainable Development Goal talks about “Clean Water and Sanitation” which is intended to ensure the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation. However, this development goal seems to still need to be fought even harder because this goal is expected to be met in 2030 or beyond.
Pandemics or other unpredictable natural disasters can affect existing water sources and quality. Vulnerability may occur if mitigation is not carried out as quickly as possible and ensures the availability of water and sanitation for everyone.
COVID-19 Impacts on People Behaviors to Water and Sanitation
The term “new normal” refers to new conditions that must be faced during the COVID-19 pandemic. This situation is also intended so that economic activities can run again but with new regulations that refer to the safety of every individual from exposure to COVID-19.
From this pandemic situation we are reminded to maintain cleanliness starting from the most basic thing, namely washing hands. The practice of personal hygiene by washing hands with water and soap becomes a simple daily routine, but what about those who experience water scarcity or face difficulty paying for water supply services?
According to data from UN Water, the people most affected by COVID-19 are the poorest communities, including some indigenous people, minorities, and rural communities, as well as those living in refugee camps, displaced people, and informal settlements of ordinary people or refugees.
Another habit that must be implemented during a pandemic is to avoid crowds or use public transportation with a crowded capacity of passengers. But the need to make a living requires them to leave their homes and return at the risk of carrying the virus. Therefore, it is very important to maintain cleanliness starting from washing hands, taking a shower immediately after leaving the house, and cleaning the house regularly, if necessary adding a disinfectant spray to be sure.
Again with the problem of access to water, in many cases, many still have minimal hygiene facilities due to inadequate water and sanitation services. For example, in prisons, schools, and other educational facilities. When looking at a more specific scope, homeless people, women and girls who are menstruating or as water collectors in the family, as well as people with disabilities and the elderly who also need accommodation for daily assistance including toileting and clean water.
This effort to access clean water is not only due to the urgency of COVID-19, but also universal access to people’s lives and livelihoods. Therefore, there should be no cut off from access to water because the promotion of the 6th SDG goal is sustainable water and sanitation management for all without discrimination for any reason.
Broadly speaking, it can be concluded that there are 3 impacts of COVID-19 on the water sector, as follows:
- COVID-19 has brought a tremendous shock to the poorest as they are running water and sanitation services deficit to contain the virus. On the same hand, developing countries and densely populated urban areas have problems with inadequate waste management and inadequate public services being a risk source of virus transmission.
- Large scale water users (industrial and large commercial) have reduced their activities due to lockdown and travel restrictions, so that industrial demand for water decreases and reduces revenues for water utilities.
- The state government makes emergency crisis measures that will affect revenue, such as deferral of bills for low-income users, suspension of debt payments, disconnection of water supply, and suspension of meter readings and invoices.
The World Bank Water Global Practice develops solutions for emergency preparedness and response to support affected, at-risk and low-capacity countries to implement control and prevention in health facilities and communities, namely:
- Supply of water, sanitation and hygiene services, and safe management of medical waste. Providing health services including water, soap, and alcohol, as well as protecting patients and health workers.
- Preparedness communication regarding hand washing behavior, food hygiene, and safe water practices, including portable hand washing facilities, water treatment points, and easy access to hand washing facilities in public areas.
- Provision of fast and inexpensive water services for the community, including hand washing, hygiene and disinfection facilities.
- Emergency support for water and sanitation utilities for sustainable water supply, monitoring and spare parts.
- Emergency response actions for fragile, conflicted, and violent regions/countries. This response to meet multi-sectoral needs; physical planning, public health, and environmental stakeholders.