Prioritising water management, improving water infrastructure and technologies, promoting behavioural change and promoting alternative resources is key to helping societies around the world better prepare for possible global health crises in the future, a team of experts have now said.
Scientists from the UK’s University of Birmingham and Northwestern University in the US published a comment article in the Nature Sustainability journal, calling on policymakers to focus on better investment in water infrastructure and knowledge promotion, following studies revealing that almost a quarter of households in low and middle-income countries have struggled to follow handwashing guidelines during the pandemic.
Areas that need addressing include protecting water sources to ensure safe drinking water, through measures such as adequate water treatment and distribution systems, as well as recycling and reusing both domestic wastewater and rainwater.
Now is also the perfect time to take advantage of the opportunities to promote good hygiene behaviours following the coronavirus crisi, such as how to use water sustainably – also important given future predictions relating to climate and population change.
As for alternative resources, these could include temporary taps and hand sanitiser products, both of which will become more and more important as time goes on and we see the impact of population growth and climate change.
Professor David Hannah of Birmingham University’s School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the urgent need for global action on water security. This is a basic human right that is not being met in large sections of the world’s population and COVID-19 has provided us with a wake-up call that we cannot afford to ignore.”
Co-author of the publication professor Stefan Krause made further comments, saying that both Unicef and the World Health Organisation have acknowledged the scale of the challenge that lies ahead, adding that water insecurity has serious consequences for both the mental and physical wellbeing of billions of people.
Businesses keen to start thinking more sustainably about their own water consumption and usage can begin now, with all sorts of options available to them in this regard.
Perhaps the best place to start, however, is looking into water leak detection and repairs onsite, as three billion litres of water is lost through leakage each and every day. You may not even know you have a leak somewhere on your premises, since the vast majority of them happen tucked away below ground or are so small you barely notice them.