Heads of State, Government and heads of United Nations agencies, international financial institutions, civil society, the private sector, research and learning are mobilizing around a call for the prioritization of water, sanitation and hygiene in response to COVID-19.
“Until there is no vaccine or treatment for COVID-19, there is no better cure than prevention.” This is highlighted in the statement issued on 14 May by SWA (Sanitation and Water for All), a global platform for achieving the Sustainable Development Goal 6, which aims to ensure the availability and sustainable management of water, sanitation and hygiene for all.
The Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC)/The Sanitation and Hygiene Fund is joining forces with the signatories to underline the conviction that government-led, collaborative and multi-stakeholder decision-making leads to more effective and sustainable solutions.
“Joining this vital and timely call, we are emphasizing the need for a scalable and global Fund that can effectively tackle the sanitation and hygiene crisis with a transformative, long-term approach. We are urging world leaders to scale up investments in sanitation, hygiene and menstrual health through the new Sanitation and Hygiene Fund. Our goal is to provide low-income countries with the means needed to achieve sanitation and hygiene for all,”
said Hind Khatib-Othman, Executive Chair of WSSCC.
The SWA statement emphasizes that water, sanitation and hygiene, together with physical distancing, are central to preventing the spread of COVID-19, and a first line of defense against the serious threat to lives and health systems. Handwashing with water and soap kills the virus but requires access to running water in sufficient quantities.
Response plans – at national, regional and global levels – must therefore prioritize water, sanitation and hygiene services.
Recognizing that the role of water, sanitation and hygiene in preventing the spread of COVID-19 will save lives, the signatories are committed to five objectives:
- Give everyone access to water, sanitation and hygiene, eliminate inequalities and leave no one behind, take care of the most vulnerable to COVID-19
- Work in collaboration with all stakeholders in a coordinated manner to improve water and sanitation services and protect populations from COVID-19.
- Ensure that water and sanitation systems are resilient and sustainable to protect human health and support national health systems.
- Give priority to the mobilization of funding to support countries in their response to this crisis by providing long-term solutions for access to water, sanitation and hygiene for all.
- Provide accurate, transparent and rational information, based on scientific facts and accessible to all.
COVID-19 is not the first and will not be the last epidemic that countries will face. Resilience to future crises depends on the measures taken now, as well as the policies, institutions and capacities that are put in place in normal times, SWA added.
“Let us ensure that this threat is not a missed opportunity to realize our vision of universal access to water, sanitation and hygiene,” concluded the signatories.