WaterAid launches emergency response to Covid-19 in India

12 May 2021
India, Toilets, Water, Disasters, Health
Ritik Chavariya, 19, handles medical waste collection at the Community Health Centre in Sehor District Madhya Pradesh.
Image: WaterAid/ Ronny Sen

As India faces a deadly second wave of Covid-19, WaterAid has launched an emergency response to bring vital water, toilet and hygiene facilities to health centers and vulnerable communities as well as urgent support to frontline sanitation workers.

The country is seeing more than 400,000 new cases every day and with the exodus of people from cities, this horrific wave has now spread to parts of rural India, threatening to overburden health centers with already weak infrastructure.  

WaterAid is raising money to support an emergency response in 50 rural health centers to rapidly repair existing water infrastructure and install temporary facilities such as handwashing stations, portable toilets and water storage units.

Frequent handwashing and cleaning of surfaces will help protect frontline staff and the patients they care for.

Already, 1 in 4 homes in India lack clean water. As the dry summer season approaches, many rural water sources will dry up. Water supplies are urgently needed. WaterAid will bring emergency supplies to 125 vulnerable rural settlements, building resilience for 12,000 people.

We'll also provide vital assistance and direct support to 2,000 sanitation workers and trash collectors in urban areas. They are working on the front lines to help slow the spread of Covid-19, but do not have suitable protective equipment or a safety nets to survive the impact of the pandemic.

WaterAid will also launch a new hygiene awareness campaign to reach 1 million people, building on its previous work to promote good hygiene habits and social distancing, to help prevent the further spread of the virus to at-risk communities.

We are also closely monitoring the spread to neighboring countries, such as Nepal, and will respond as needed.

VK Madhavan, Chief Executive at WaterAid India, said:
“The pandemic has engulfed India. As our large cities start to survive this wave through lockdowns and improvements in health care infrastructure, the interest and attention to this issue will wane. Unfortunately, this disease has already spread to rural parts of the country, to areas where public health infrastructure was already limited and will not be able to withstand the surge. As the summer season is upon us, the situation will rapidly become more dire as access to a clean drinking water supply will become more difficult in water scarce areas.

“While the government’s primary focus is on critical life-saving equipment like oxygen, protective equipment and vaccines, our work will help ensure communities and healthcare workers have the basics of clean water and decent sanitation to help protect themselves from the spread of disease.”

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[i] Beale S, Johnson A, Zambon M, null n, Hayward A, Fragaszy E. Hand Hygiene Practices and the Risk of Human Coronavirus Infections in a UK Community Cohort [version 1; peer review: 1 approved, 1 approved with reservations]. Wellcome Open Research. 2020;5(98). https://wellcomeopenresearch.org/articles/5-98


For more information, contact:
Emily Haile, Director of Communications, [email protected]