Media roundup - clean water, wash news, July 16, 2021

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A portrait of M's nephew drinking water
Image: WaterAid/ Sokmeng You

July 16, 2021

Editorial: WaterAid's Mission Critical Report was discussed on the BBC World Service on July 7, 2021. Please find a transcript of the conversation between Chilufya Chileshe, the Global Policy Director for WaterAid and BBC journalist, Clare McDonnell.

BBC World Service. July 7, 2021


Journalist: Clare McDonnell

Clare McDonnell: “Now, if you have it, clean water can be something that you end up taking for granted. If you don’t have it then the lack of drinking water, sanitation and hygiene can be affront to your dignity. But it is also a huge factor in limiting economic development to the tune of trillions of dollars. It’s a financial and economic calculation being made by the charity WaterAid, who say that investment in clean water would lead to huge productivity boosts for millions of people. Global Policy Director of WaterAid, Chilufya Chileshe, joins us now from Lusaka in Zambia. 

Clare McDonnell: “Great to talk to you, thank you for joining us. Your report says that access to water hygiene toilets could bring returns of up to 21 times their costs. So could you explain the working to us?”

Chileshe: “ Yes, thank you very much. We are living in a time where are acknowledging the value of water, the value of washing your hands frequently with soap and running water and unfortunately, what we see is that this is not the reality for the majority of people. Our report shows that there are significant benefits to be had, in fact we are talking about it as a triple win. So billions in economic opportunities and health savings as well as addressing the various challenges that women face on a daily basis.”

Clare McDonnell: “So when we talk about the health, I’m reading this really stark statistics that diarrhea kills more than 70,000 children every year and every year 4 million years are lost to people throighh to ill health and shortened lives. SO the health benefits are huge. You mention women there, women are often the ones who spend so much time going and collecting water. That’s a lot of hours waster when, if they had water they could be being productive with it, couldn’t they?”

Chileshe:: “Yes, they definitely could. And what our Report is finding is that just having a community water pump could save women as much as 77 million working days a year and if you think about that in terms of their ability to be productive, the prospects of freedom for them is enormous. If you translate that into economic terms it can be quite transformative. Unfortunately, a lot of the work that women are putting in, collecting water, walking for long distances means that we are missing on out valuable economic time.”

Clare McDonnell: “Everything you have said makes perfect sense. You start with it being a basic human right. That this is what you need to survive, exist, live with dignity, to keep yourself safe and your family safe. But also the economic benefits, so why is it then that this is something governments aren’t investing in, why isn’t that the first port of call?”

Chileshe:: “ Unfortunately what we (at WaterAid) find is that very often governments, and, we know that it is not only governments that have this responsibility, so you have governments, businesses and donors. They don’t always fully appreciate the value of getting clean water, decent toilets and hygiene services to people. So right now for instance we have the G20 meeting. We know they are talking about stimulus, talking about how to improve our response to COVID, how to make our environment much more sustainable. The green recovery. But we also know that getting people access to clean water, toilets and place to wash their hands is not at the top of their priority and hasn’t been at the top of many governments priorities. It iust hasn’t been fully appreciated. So what we’re trying to do with this report is show that it’s not just about improving people health and livelihoods but it’s also quite a significant boost to economies if we can invest in water and sanitation. You can imagine, if everyone had a toilet that separates fecal matter from human contact, it could give us returns of up to 86 Billion per year and of course minimize diarrhea and the cost of treating those diseases. “

Clare McDonnell: “It would save many, many lives and it’s all laid out clearly in this report. Thank you for talking us through it.“



Download the full report (PDF) 

General Media Round Up


Global campaign aims to help communities get access to clean water 



The value of a WASH-and-go approach 



Does hand hygiene reduce infections? Here’s what an expert has to say 



Women bear the brunt of the water crisis 



African countries destroy 450,000 Covid vaccines 



Covid: Senegal advises against Eid travel 



Africa's Covid deaths up 43% in a week – WHO 


Ethiopia's Tigray crisis: Fleeing for fear of new ethnic conflict 



Ethiopia suspends Addis newspaper licence 



Troops across Ethiopia mobilise to fight in Tigray 



Eritrean refugees' plight worsening in Tigray – UN 



Women killed in food stampede at Nigerian camp 



Tanzania's 'patriotism tax' on mobile money begins 



Eswatini king invites his subjects for protest talks 



India vaccination: Six months on, India's vaccine drive is lagging 



Bollywood star launches new mental health initiative for frontline workers 





Diarrhea: Health officials visit site, organise onsite camp 

Times of India:  


Cholera outbreak: At Panchkula's Abheypur village, sewer lines run parallel to water pipes 

Tribune India:  


Human waste contamination in urban surface waters is driving the spread of 'superbugs' 

News Medical Life Sciences:  


WaterAid in the news

Mission Critical: Interview of Mamadou Diarafa Diallo Mali's CD on BBC News Afrique 

(audio attached) 


Mission Critical: ‘Water, hygiene key to boost of economies’ 

The Finder Online: 


Making profit shouldn't cost the earth (Blog by Natalie Campbell and Charlotte Harrington, co-CEOs,Belu) 



From advocacy to engineering, we cover a lot of ground, but the fundamentals of our work are simple:

Clean water infrastructure means people can access clean, running water 365 days a year.

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Toilets matter more than you might think. Sanitation is fundamental for the dignity and health of a community.

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Hygiene is the final piece of the puzzle. Good hygiene helps people stay healthier, it prevents the spread of diseases and allows people to flourish.

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