The association between water, sanitation, climate change, and COVID-19 can’t be understated. The dramatic changes in one arena can cause catastrophic changes for another.
We have finally come to realize that if we will not believe in the bond or association of these four terms, nature will haunt us again and again.
One of the glaring example in front of us is the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2019 which reminds us that if we will not make hectic efforts for each one of them such as water issues, unsanitary conditions, deteriorating climatic changes, and uncontrolled COVID-19 situation, the world is very soon to collapse and the destruction is in our sight.
Read more: Climate Change and Pakistan’s Water Security
The close association between sanitation and COVID-19 can be gauged from the fact that the origination of this deadly virus was only due to the unsanitary conditions in the Huanan Seafood market located in the Wuhan city of China.
According to the top-notch infectious disease experts and epidemiologists, the prevalence of filthy environments in any area leads to Zoonotic diseases (diseases that are transferred from animals to humans).
The recent article published in the well-reputed TIME magazine also reported that the possible origin of this virus was due to unsanitary conditions with heaps of solid waste lying on the floor and all the animals living in cramped spaces with no ventilation.
Role of climate change
The main causative factor behind this sudden surge in various types of communicable diseases is climate change. These abrupt and drastic changes have provided the desired environment for these tiny non-living virulent pathogens to emerge and ravage the whole world.
The anomalous changes in our weather pattern fuelled by climate change destroy the habitat of wildlife animals leading to migration. This rapid migration of wildlife animals towards urbanized areas becomes the main reason for proximity with humans.
As a consequence of this, there is a greater possibility of transmission of the virus. This shows that the prospect of survival of these virulent pathogens is solely dependent on the temperature variation.
On the other hand, the rapid migration due to the climate crisis in various regions causes more transmission of communicable diseases from one place to another. The areas where these climate migrants live as refugees are known to be the major hotspots of COVID-19.
Scarcity of water
No doubt, water is one of the essential commodities to survive in this world. It is going to be more expensive than fuel in the future. The scarcity of water in many regions of the world has caused an exponential surge in COVID-19 cases.
This is due to the fact that the people of these areas do not wash their hands and clean themselves properly because of the paucity of water in their region. They are extremely poor to purchase it from the market and this leads to more fatalities.
One can hear the disturbing stories of the people of the Republic of Congo covered by the International Committee of Red Cross.
The people of this unlucky state have to cover 10 to 15 kilometers to fetch water for them and use it for the prevention of COVID-19 by washing their hands.
To make our environment better and more resilient to face an unprecedented crisis like COVID-19, the government has to make proactive policies by adopting an inclusive approach.
Measures that need to be taken
The government and different stakeholders must devise strategies while looking at the important quartet relationship between water, sanitation, climate change, and COVID-19. They should include climate change as a top priority of every government and special focus should be diverted towards Paris Climate Agreement.
Proper solid waste management plans must be introduced on the regional and international levels to minimize the adverse impacts of unsanitary conditions. Hygienic environments should be provided to animals in markets and slaughterhouses to minimize Zoonotic diseases like COVID-19.
World Health Organization should investigate thoroughly the main origins of COVID-19 and try its best to forestall such things in the future.
Water-stressed countries should devise a feasible mechanism to use their water resource and arrange some alternative plans during this pandemic. Also, special attention should be diverted towards making hand-washing facilities in water-scarce regions to prevent infectious diseases.
Read more: Water scarcity making country a wasteland
To conclude, the relationship between water, sanitation, climate change, and COVID-19 is quite strong. One should not be mistaken that giving attention to only one thing will provide the solution.
The dramatic changes for the progression of our world are only possible when customized solutions and individual attention would be provided to address each one of them. In this way, we will reach the zenith of success in every arena.
The author is a graduate of the Institute of Environmental Engineering Mehran UET Jamshoro. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.