Prevention is better than cure? Inequalities in access to water, sanitation and hygiene and experiences of COVID-19

Type: Virtual Paper
Theme: Geographies of Access: Inclusion and Pathways
Sponsor Groups:
Poster #:
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 6:25 AM / 7:40 AM (PDT)
Room: Virtual 13
Organizers: Sarah Dickin, Andrea Rishworth, Elijah Bisung
Chairs: Sarah Dickin

Call for Submissions

The goal of this session is to bring together a broad range of perspectives to understand interactions between COVID-19 and inequalities in WASH services, with an emphasis on vulnerable and marginalized groups. This includes consequences of the pandemic and governments’ responses, and lessons that can inform short- and long-term recovery and preparations for future disease outbreaks. Papers are invited on, but not limited to, topics such as empirical evidence on impacts in particular contexts, theoretical insights, or comparative analyses across different countries.


Description

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the critical role of environmental determinants of health and wellbeing, particularly water sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services. Billions of people lack access to basic WASH services that are critical to protect their health. In particular, handwashing facilities with soap and water are essential to prevent the spread of infectious disease transmission but are lacking in 40 % of households (WHO/UNICEF, 2019). Access to WASH services is characterized by a range of inequalities, and in many cases COVID-19 is further exacerbating these challenges. This includes greater challenges in accessing safe WASH for the elderly, people with disabilities, those living in vulnerable situations such as informal settlements, refugee camps, people precariously housed or experiencing homelessness (Corburn et al., 2020; Uddin, Walters, Gaillard, Hridi, & McSherry, 2015).The pandemic has also exacerbated existing gender inequalities related to water and sanitation, such as increasing barriers for women’s access to safe public sanitation facilities in urban areas.

These challenges have generated substantial political attention. Recently a World Leaders' Call to Action on COVID-19 was published to ensure prioritization of sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene services for all, and a recent Sanitation and Water for All Finance Minister’s meeting emphasized the importance of WASH services to address COVID-19. The WHO Manifesto for a healthy recovery from COVID-19 includes a ‘prescription’ to invest in essential services, including water and sanitation.

To ensure increased mobilization and financing is prioritized to effectively to target those most left behind it is important to understand the uneven impacts of the pandemic and people’s lived experiences, such as coping strategies due to the loss of access to WASH facilities, decreased affordability, stigma, and navigating public WASH services in the context of lock downs and curfews (Howard et al., 2020; Roelen, Ackley, Boyce, & Farina, 2020). The goal of this session is to bring together a broad range of perspectives to understand interactions between COVID-19 and inequalities in WASH services, with an emphasis on vulnerable groups. This includes consequences of the pandemic and governments’ responses, and lessons that can inform short- and long-term recovery and preparations for future disease outbreaks. Papers are invited on, but not limited to, topics such as empirical evidence on impacts in particular contexts, theoretical insights, or comparative analyses across different countries.

References
Corburn, J., Vlahov, D., Mberu, B., Riley, L., Caiaffa, W. T., Rashid, S. F., … Ayad, H. (2020). Slum Health: Arresting COVID-19 and Improving Well-Being in Urban Informal Settlements. Journal of Urban Health, 97(3), 348–357. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11524-020-00438-6

Howard, G., Bartram, J., Brocklehurst, C., Colford Jr, J. M., Costa, F., Cunliffe, D., … Wright, C. Y. (2020). COVID-19: urgent actions, critical reflections and future relevance of ‘WaSH’: lessons for the current and future pandemics. Journal of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Development. https://doi.org/10.2166/washdev.2020.218

Roelen, K., Ackley, C., Boyce, P., & Farina, N. (2020). COVID ‑ 19 in LMICs : The Need to Place Stigma Front and Centre to Its Response. The European Journal of Development Research, (0123456789). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41287-020-00316-6

Uddin, S. M. N., Walters, V., Gaillard, J. C., Hridi, S. M., & McSherry, A. (2015). Water, sanitation and hygiene for homeless people. Journal of Water and Health, 14(1), 47–51. https://doi.org/10.2166/wh.2015.248

WHO/UNICEF (2019). Progress on household drinking water, sanitation and hygiene, 2000-2017. Special focus on inequalities.


Agenda

Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Susan Elliott*, University of Waterloo, Andrea C Rishworth, Penn State University, Elijah Bisung, Queen's University, Sarah Dickin, Stockholm Environment Institute, Wash my hands with what? Global inequalities in resources required to stem the spread of COVID-19 15 6:25 AM
Presenter Rodrigo Curty Pereira*, University of Waterloo, Susan Elliottt, University of Waterloo, The river with no water: inequalities in access to water in Brazil during the COVID-19 pandemic 15 6:40 AM
Presenter Carla Liera*, Stockholm Environment Institute, Sarah Dickin, Stockholm Environment Institute , Alexia Itzel Moreno , El Caracol A.C., Luis Enrique Hernandez, El Caracol A.C., Gerardo Rodriguez, El Caracol A.C. , Covid-19 and barriers to safe water and sanitation among people experiencing homelessness in Mexico City 15 6:55 AM
Presenter Elijah Bisung*, Queen's University, Andrea Rishworth, Penn State University, Elias Kuusaana, University for Development Studies - Ghana, COVID-19 and water insecurity: challenges, strategies, and the way forward 15 7:10 AM
Discussant Debarchana Ghosh University of Connecticut 15 7:25 AM

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