What a Year of COVID Has Taught Us About the Value of Water


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Today we celebrate World Water Day under the theme Valuing Water. The timing is appropriate. Just recently, we somberly observed the one-year mark of the COVID-19 pandemic declaration, and I think we all feel the value of water more than ever. A full year of intense handwashing, cleaning, and disinfection in our homes, workplaces, and healthcare settings has taught us all – as individuals, households, and communities – the critical role water plays in the fight against infectious diseases, such as COVID-19. At the same time, the pandemic itself has put at risk some of the gains made in previous years towards the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6: Clean Water and Sanitation for All. As the pandemic paralyzed much of the world, food security activities were put on hold as well, including key WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) interventions. But not for long. Activities quickly found their footing again and came up with adaptations that made it possible to both continue pushing towards SDG 6 and respond to prevent and mitigate the effects of COVID-19.

In this blog, we will look at how three activities, all funded by the USAID Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, supported community WASH activities that resulted in greater resilience to prepare for and respond to major shocks such as COVID-19. Join me to learn how the Victory Against Malnutrition Plus (ViMPlus) activity in Burkina Faso used existing platforms and relationships to rapidly ramp up social and behavior change activities to respond to COVID-19. In Zimbabwe, the Amalima activity finalized a study on understanding how lending, savings, and income-generating activities, combined with hygiene and sanitation promotion, can help move the mark on ending open defecation. Lastly, learn how SHOUHARDO III used human-centered design and market-based approaches to improve sanitation coverage in Bangladesh.

All three activities presented their findings and adaptations at the recent Colorado WASH Symposium. You will find links to all presentation materials throughout this blog.

To read the full blog, and to learn more about each activity, please click here.