WaterAid statement on Cyclone Amphan in Bangladesh and India

Posted by
Emily Pritchard
22 May 2020
Handwashing at the contactless portable device at the community entry point. Contactless (with paddle) handwashing device- a low cost yet highly effective solution for low income communities. Covid-19 response. Bangladesh. April 2020

Cyclone Amphan has devastated parts of India and Bangladesh, with more than 80 people currently reported to have been killed. Rescue efforts have been hindered by COVID-19.

Tim Wainwright, CEO, WaterAid, said:

“India and Bangladesh are currently being battered by the worst cyclone we have seen this century. This is an awful reminder that the climate crisis is already with us whilst we also try to cope with the COVID-19 crisis. Many communities will take years to recover, and as we expect global carbon emissions to bounce back to pre-pandemic levels, it’s likely that climate conditions will get worse and worse.

“At the heart of both these crises is a water crisis. Whilst the immediate impact of Cyclone Amphan is visible destruction, the aftermath is often much more damaging. Water sources, already under pressure, may be contaminated by sewage or simply submerged underwater; the huge storm surge will bring salt water into wells and reservoirs; and people, usually women and young girls, will be forced to travel and queue for water, all during the pandemic.

“Hygiene and handwashing, which are vital first lines of defence against COVID-19, could well be put beyond reach for whole communities, as they already are for 3 billion around the world.

“As these crises stack up they are a stark reminder of why we cannot respond with half measures or quick fixes – a response must include urgent investment in basic services such as water, sanitation and hygiene facilities that are well managed and fit for an uncertain future. Without these basic services many communities will always be on the edge of catastrophe.”

For more information please contact
Emily Pritchard, Global News Manager, [email protected]
or call 07725 991201
Fiona Callister, Global Head of Media, [email protected]  
Or call our after-hours press line on +44 (0)7887 521 552
or email [email protected]   


WaterAid is working to make clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene normal for everyone, everywhere within a generation. The international not-for-profit organisation works in 28 countries to change the lives of the poorest and most marginalised people. Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 26.4 million people with clean water and 26.3 million people with decent toilets. For more information, visit www.wateraid.org/uk, follow @WaterAid or @WaterAidPress on Twitter, or find WaterAid UK on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wateraid.

  • 785 million people in the world – one in ten – do not have clean water close to home.[1]
  • 2 billion people in the world – almost one in four – do not have a decent toilet of their own.[2]
  • Around 310,000 children under five die every year from diarrhoeal diseases caused by poor water and sanitation. That's almost 800 children a day, or one child every two minutes.[3]
  • Every £1 invested in water and toilets returns an average of £4 in increased productivity.[4]
  • Just £15 can provide one person with clean water.[5]

[1] WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) Progress on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene: 2017 update and SDG Baselines

[2] WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) Progress on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene: 2017 update and SDG Baselines

[3] Prüss-Ustün et al. (2014) and The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (2018)

[4] World Health organization (2012) Global costs and benefits of drinking-water supply and sanitation interventions to reach the MDG target and universal coverage

[5] www.wateraid.org