COVID-19 and water insecurity: challenges, strategies, and the way forward

Authors: Elijah Bisung*, Queen's University, Andrea Rishworth, Penn State University, Elias Kuusaana, University for Development Studies - Ghana
Topics: Medical and Health Geography, Africa
Keywords: COVID-19, water security, hand hygiene, Ghana
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 6:25 AM / 7:40 AM
Room: Virtual 13
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene is essential to protecting human health and wellbeing during infectious disease outbreaks, including the COVID-19 outbreak. COVID-19 and associated public health control measures, such as the need to maintain good hygiene practices, pose particular challenges for people experiencing water insecurity. For the millions of people without basic access to water or the 3 billion people who lacked basic handwashing facilities at home globally, the need and pressure to follow public health guidance on hand hygiene comes with many trade-offs and consequences. Using data from a household survey (n= 1200) conducted in the Upper West Region of Ghana, this paper documents residents’ water insecurity coping strategies and hand hygiene practices in the context of COVID-19. We discuss the unique effects of COVID-19 on those experiencing water insecurity, specific challenges for those responsible for water collection, and strategies used by households and local authorities to reduce the burden of water insecurity.

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