By Pramod Thomas
A NEW SURVEY has found out that people in some of the countries hardest hit by Covid-19 including Pakistan and South Africa have struggled to wash their hands during the pandemic due to water scarcity.
The survey, conducted on Global Handwashing Day (15 October), by WaterAid and YouGov revealed that nearly seven out of ten people (69 per cent) in Pakistan and over half of people (55 per cent) in South Africa faced difficulties for hand-washing.
Nearly 25 per cent responded to the survey in Pakistan said that water was not available and 21 per cent in South Africa revealed that it was ‘too expensive’.
According to the survey, only 6 per cent people in the UK have had problems in washing their hands at home and even less experienced barriers at work (5 per cent).
Meanwhile, one third of low income Pakistanis have experienced barriers to washing their hands at home, out of which 7 per cent said that water is too expensive and 28 per cent said they had no water.
In the wake of the survey, WaterAid has called for urgent, largescale investment in handwashing facilities – focusing on healthcare facilities, schools and public places to protect against the spread of Covid-19 and other infectious diseases.
“WaterAid has worked hard during the pandemic to bring hand washing facilities to communities that would otherwise struggle to stay hygienic, in slum areas and in market places. We are calling on governments to use this moment to urgently scale up investment in clean water, soap, somewhere to wash hands and the knowledge of how and why to do so, prioritising healthcare facilities and vulnerable communities,” said Tim Wainwright, ceo, WaterAid.
“No pandemic preparedness plan is worthy of the name without clean water, sanitation and hygiene at the core.”
Globally, 3 billion people are living without somewhere to wash their hands with clean water and soap at home. In low income countries three quarters of people don’t have anywhere to wash their hands with soap at home.
In Pakistan 13 per cent of people have faced difficulties in washing their hands at a healthcare facility.
According to media platform Devex, of the $20trillion committed to the Covid-19 response so far, only around 0.02 per cent has been invested in scaling up vital water, sanitation and hygiene services.
The artwork ‘Clean water saves lives’ by London-based Holly Thomas has become the winner of the Art of Change competition, on the theme of water and hygiene, which saw participation from 44 countries.