Around 20 million people are affected by saline intrusion from coastal flooding as it threatens the long term supply of clean water, the report says
Investment in water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) projects will boost the economies of developing nations by millions of dollars over the next two decades, says a new report by WaterAid.
Ensuring clean water, toilets, and hygiene for everyone through WASH projects by governments, businesses and international donors is essential for public health response to Covid-19, a mission-critical fiscal stimulus for economic recovery and a core element of future pandemic preparedness plans.
The report titled “Mission Critical: Invest in water, sanitation and hygiene for a healthy and green economic recovery” was published after the UK government slashed bilateral funding for overseas WASH projects by more than 80%.
Tim Wainwright, chief executive of WaterAid, said: “There can be no going back to the pre-pandemic business-as-usual.”
“WaterAid is calling on governments, donors and businesses to do the right thing and prioritize the most vulnerable communities by making WASH investments central to their Covid-19 response, pandemic-preparedness and green recovery plans,” he added.
In 2020, Bangladesh experienced flood damages costing around $476 million in repairs and reduced WASH benefits which could have been potentially saved by spending about $90 million in building resilience, according to the report.
Hasin Jahan, country director of WaterAid Bangladesh, said: “Investing in WASH can unlock economic opportunities and health savings at relatively low cost. The investment can also address key objectives of stimulus spending post-pandemic and can build resilience to increasing climate risks.”
The global report highlighted case studies of WASH investments in Ethiopia and Bangladesh that show significant health and time-saving benefits, especially for women and girls and marginalized groups.
Saline intrusion from coastal flooding threatens the long-term supply of safe water; affecting 20 million people each year and leading to negative health outcomes, the report said.
Providing basic water services could save the equivalent of 77 million days per year spent in collecting water by the women of the world – enabling them to explore work and life options, it added.
Mentioning that the pandemic has seen a further backsliding in women’s economic empowerment, the report said sufficient and targeted investment in WASH, among other things, was needed to help reverse the backslide but also to help accelerate us towards gender equality.