SEATTLE, Washington — During the COVID-19 pandemic, the best advice is that people should wash their hands properly as often as possible. According to the African Development Bank, though, 40% of the world’s population does not have access to soap and handwashing stations. This can be very problematic for some of the poorest areas of the world. Thankfully, many organizations are generously donating resources and working ceaselessly to combat the issues of COVID-19 and water scarcity globally.
5 Organizations Fighting COVID-19 and Water Scarcity
- UNICEF: In Syria, violence caused an interruption to the Allouk water station, an important water source for 460,000 people. UNICEF worked to bring water trucks to those affected. The need for water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) is imperative. It becomes even more critical during a pandemic. UNICEF also distributed 26,00 bars of soap to Kibera, a massive informal settlement in Kenya.
- U.N.-Habitat and the European Investment Bank (EIB): These two organizations partnered together to fight the spread of COVID-19 by providing handwashing stations in Tanzania. These handwashing stations are located in Mwanza and are available for public use. The organizations have trained volunteers in proper handwashing techniques and provided with personal protective equipment. Furthermore, the Mwanza Urban Water and Sanitation Company will install more water taps and suspend water disconnections.
- The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC): The ICRC is working hard in countries across the globe to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The committee focused on distributing water and soap to detention centers and prisons around the world as well as training healthcare workers. Its work reaches Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of Congo, El Salvador and other countries. In addition to donating water and hygiene products, the ICRC also donated mattresses, gloves, masks and thermometers. Additionally, the ICRC runs emergency wards and field hospitals.
- WaterAid: WaterAid is a nonprofit organization dedicated to making clean water and good hygiene a reality for everyone. The organization responded to COVID-19 and water scarcity by donating water tanks, soap, personal protective equipment and rubbing alcohol to countries such as Uganda, Ethiopia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Eswatini and others. WaterAid also organized community outreach and social media campaigns to teach the importance of handwashing to prevent diseases. It also trains people on how to properly wash their hands.
- Sanitation and Water for All (SWA): SWA and its partners in various countries are focusing on mobilizing people to help spread awareness about good hygiene practices. They are gathering resources (such as masks and soap) and providing food and water for the poorest groups. In India alone, SWA met the hygiene needs of 500 homeless people. It also donated personal protective equipment to frontline workers and provided food and water for impoverished people who are out of work due to social distancing requirements.
Global Call to Action
SWA also issued a global call-to-action asking world leaders to make hygiene and water access a priority with availability to all people. It encouraged working with various organizations and governments to share data transparently and ensure that all measures taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are sustainable even after the creation of a vaccine. More than 60 leaders signed on to this call-to-action. This includes leaders from the United Nations, UNICEF, the African Development Bank, the World Health Organization and the ICRC. Several government leaders have also signed on.
The best prevention method for diseases is hygiene. This fact becomes even more blatant in the face of a pandemic like COVID-19. A crisis such as this is very troubling to the world’s impoverished population. However, through the efforts of organizations like these around the globe, countless lives may be saved.
– Nick Rhodes