News & Events

Return to Full Page
« Back

Indian citizens: Wash your hands! Definitely but there is no water!

Indian citizens: Wash your hands! Definitely but there is no water!

Indian citizens: Wash your hands! Definitely but there is no water!

April 9, 2020


The protest comes as celebrities such as Amitabh Bachchan appear on television and ask citizens to wash their hands with soap for at least 20 seconds to prevent Covid-19 infection. . On April 1, 2020, a one-week holiday across India recorded a one-day increase in 400 people with coronavirus. In the two weeks since the outbreak of the virus in India, the demand for hand washing with soap for 20 seconds has spread in all Indian media.

Social media is full of celebrities and politicians who offer similar hand-washing training. Therefore, places that are infected with this contagious virus must be disinfected over and over again, resulting in large amounts of excess water. Hospitals need enough quality water. Public places, such as bus stations, railway stations, subway stations, etc., need regular hygiene and, as a result, more water to neutralize Covid-19.

There is no doubt about the purpose of these requests for cleanliness. But is there enough water (washing hands for 20 seconds) for all families or disinfecting homes and public places to neutralize Covid-19? Two years ago, NITI Aayog predicted a worrying scenario of water crisis in India, saying that the country, with 60 crores, or about 45 percent of the population, is facing the worst water crisis in history.

Most of us have probably forgotten that there is a huge water crisis in India because of the excitement. An approximate estimate shows that one or two liters of clean water is needed for each hand wash for 20 seconds. With that in mind, for several hand washes a day, a family of five needs at least 50 to 70 liters of extra water.

For the capital city of Delhi, with an adult population of over 20 million, the extra amount of clean water, to deal with corona alone, will be about 35 to 40 million liters per day. When we add the water needed to clean houses and public places, the amount of water needed is very high.

Thanks to last year's heavy rains, many Indian water reservoirs now have some water. Otherwise, the Covid-19 scenario in India would be catastrophic. Most water tanks are still contaminated and unsuitable for hand washing. Such water from polluted sources is useless in the fight against coronavirus. Large areas in India, such as parts of Rajasthan, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra and Gujarat, have arid or semi-arid climates.

These areas are typically characterized by extreme temperatures, annual rainfall of between 100 mm and 800 mm, constant water shortages, and areas where the Covid-19 storm has just begun. Data from the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sewerage show that only 18.33 percent of the country's rural households have water piping connections by March 2019.

Most of the slums in the city's residential areas depend on water tankers, and for such households, alcohol-based disinfectants are unusable and inadequate. Fortunately, unlike in Europe, the United States and Iran, the incidence is still high in India. It has been relatively low. The slowdown in the number of patients could be due to a nationwide shutdown announced by the government.

But dependence on solitary quarantine can be a disaster because the lack of clean water can lead to panic, which government strategies are working hard to address. If not enough attention is paid to access to clean water, the community transfer is like a powder container waiting to explode. The World Bank estimates that 21 percent of communicable diseases in India are associated with unsafe water and lack of sanitation.

Therefore, at least 45% of Indians exposed to dangerous water crises are at different risk, not only from the transmission of Covid-19, but also from other infectious diseases. Most of the time, the lack of adequate, available and quality water or inefficient water management in India itself multiplies the risk of infectious diseases. Therefore, even after several rounds of nationwide closure of cities and villages, the virus can spread secretly in households. Either the role of COVID-19 in water scarcity becomes more prominent, or the role of insufficient clean water in COVID-19 disease.

Years of neglect of water infrastructure, lack of financial costs and inefficiency of the Water Authority have put the nation and the citizens of India at risk of spreading coronavirus.

Any delay in improving clean water for the vulnerable minority weakens the country's resilience to future water-related disasters. Therefore, in addition to the requests of celebrities, better water management is necessary to neutralize diseases such as coronavirus and other health challenges in the future.