The United Nations predicts effects of the Covid-19 pandemic will hit the world’s most vulnerable people the hardest, many in underserved informal settlements and rural communities. One of the most basic preventive practices – handwashing – requires two elements often sorely lacking in these areas: clean water and soap.
The World Bank is promoting water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services as key actions to protect the health of people worldwide during the pandemic and the Bank’s emergency response centers on three main areas:
Health facilities: The 2019 World Health Organization/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Project report showed that one in four health care facilities in the world lacks basic water service, affecting more than 900 million people. One in five health care facilities has no sanitation service, affecting 1.5 billion people. The Bank is working to ensure that minimum quality standards are in place and that soap and alcohol-based hand-cleaning products are widely available.
Easy access to hand washing: The Bank calls on schools, markets, workplaces, transportation stations and others to provide easy access to water, soap and hand washing facilities. The Global Handwashing Partnership can provide support for developing messaging and materials to respond to COVID-19 outbreaks, the Bank advises.
Emergency support to secure and extend water and sanitation service provision: The Bank is supporting water services in areas without them. Providing “just-in-time community water access points,” including water kiosks, tankers and soap to unserved urban and rural areas, and to health care facilities and schools in particular, is critical, the Bank says.
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