• Friday, Jan 22, 2021
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UN experts: Ensure safe water for vulnerable people to fight Covid-19

  • Published at 09:10 am March 24th, 2020
File photo: A student washes her hands after clean up at a school in Abuja, Nigeria March 20, 2020 Reuters

They express concerns that economically vulnerable people will become victims of a vicious cycle

Governments worldwide must provide continuous access to sufficient water to their populations living in the most vulnerable conditions as washing hands with soap and clean water is vital in the fight against Covid-19, UN experts have said. 

The global struggle against the pandemic has little chance to succeed if personal hygiene, the main measure to prevent contagion, is unavailable to the 2.2 billion persons who have no access to safe water services, they said on Monday.

They called on governments to immediately prohibit water cuts to those who cannot pay water bills, according to a statement issued from Geneva, reports UNB. 

The UN experts are Léo Heller, Livingstone Sewanyana, Catalina Devandas-Aguilar, Saad Alfarargi, David R Boyd, Dainius Puras, Leilani Farha, Felipe González Morales, Rosa Kornfeld-Matte, and Obiora C Okafor.

It is also essential that they provide water free of cost for the duration of the crisis to people in poverty and those affected by the upcoming economic hardship, they said, adding that public and private service providers must be enforced to comply with these fundamental measures.

"For the most privileged, washing hands with soap and clean water - the main defence against the virus - is a simple gesture. But for some groups around the world it is a luxury they cannot afford."

The UN experts welcomed the measures announced by some governments to mitigate the impact of the loss of jobs likely to result from the pandemic and called for policies to ensure the continuous access to water and sanitation.

"People living in informal settlements, those who are homeless, rural populations, women, children, older persons, people with disabilities, migrants, refugees, and all other groups vulnerable to the effects of the pandemic need to have continuous access to sufficient and affordable water. Only this will allow them to comply with the recommendations of health institutions to keep strict hygiene measures," the UN experts said.

They expressed concerns that economically vulnerable people will become victims of a vicious cycle.

"Throughout our mandates, we keep insisting on the need to ensure that 'no one is left behind.' Governments must pay special attention to marginalized groups who are rarely at the centre of public policies related to water and sanitation. In relation to Covid-19, this message is even more critical," they said.

The fast spreading coronavirus, a pandemic announced by the World Health Organization (WHO), has claimed more than 16,500 lives and infected over 379,000 people across the world, according to Worldometer.

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