News.May 14, 2020

Make clean water for all a top global priority!

Water, sanitation, and hygiene must be the first line of defense against Covid-19. That is why SIWI has joined other major organizations in a call to action demanding that governments across the world prioritize access to clean water for all. This is a shared responsibility – we are only as healthy as the most vulnerable members of society, no matter which country they are in.

Until there is a vaccine or treatment for Covid-19, the best cure is prevention. With that in mind, the organization Sanitation and Water for All recently asked global leaders and international organizations to support a Call to Action to highlight the urgent need for countries to prioritize access to safe water and sanitation for everyone.

SIWI’s Executive Director Torgny Holmgren is one of the signatories and he welcomes the initiative: “To stop the spread of Covid-19 everyone needs access to safe water and sanitation. We are still far from that goal – 40 per cent of the global population lack access to clean water and soap at home – but hopefully, the current crisis will help the world understand why this must be a top global priority,” Holmgren says.

The statement has so far been signed by the United Nation’s Deputy Secretary-General Amina J Mohammed, as well as the heads of major UN organizations such as WHO, UNICEF, UNDP, and others. It is also endorsed by other organizations and institutions such as ICRC, the World Bank, regional development banks, as well as many private sector companies and heads of state.

The purpose is to draw attention to the crucial role of water, sanitation, and hygiene as the first line of defense against the spread of Covid-19, together with physical distancing. It calls upon leaders everywhere to provide these services to all, without discrimination.

“There are many things governments can do immediately to support people living in vulnerable circumstances and there are inspiring examples from around the globe. Everyone should be guaranteed access to a minimum amount of clean drinking water,” Torgny Holmgren says.

SIWI has long experience in water governance and supports national and local authorities, as well as water and sanitation utilities, during the current crisis. In collaboration with UNICEF, SIWI is also monitoring the response of countries across the world and offers practical assistance. The aim is to share knowledge on how the water, sanitation and hygiene sector can respond to prevent the spread of the pandemic, and thus improve the health of citizens.