HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — Violet Manuel hastily abandoned her uncle’s funeral and grabbed two empty containers when she heard a boy running down the dirt road shouting, “Water, water, water!”
The 72-year-old joined dozens of people seeking their daily ration in Zimbabwe’s densely populated town of Chitungwiza.
“Social distancing here?” Manuel asked tartly. She sighed with relief after getting her allotment of 40 liters (10.5 gallons) but worried about the coronavirus.
“I got the water, but chances are that I also got the disease,” she told The Associated Press. And yet her plans for the water did not include hand-washing but “more important” tasks such as cleaning dishes and flushing the toilet.
Such choices underscore the challenges of preventing the spread of the coronavirus in slums, camps and other crowded settlements around the world where clean water is scarce and survival is a daily struggle.
Some 3 billion people, from indigenous communities in Brazil to war-shattered villages in northern Yemen, have nowhere to wash their hands with soap and clean water at home, according to the charity group WaterAid. It fears that global funding is being rushed toward vaccines and treatments without “any real commitment to prevention.”
Definitively linking COVID-19 cases to water access isn’t easy without deeper investigation, said Gregory Bulit with UNICEF’s water and sanitation team, “but what we know is, without water, the risk is increased.”In the Arab region alone, about 74 million people don’t have access to a basic hand-washing facility, the United Nations says.Nearly a decade of civil war has damaged much of Syria’s water infrastructure, and millions must resort to alternative measures. In the last rebel-held territory of Idlib, […]