Importance of water
Water is one of the most important substances on earth. It covers 70% of our planet. It’s very easy to think that it will always be plentiful. But, it’s the freshwater that we use in our daily life. It comprises only 3% of world’s water, from that, two-third is tucked away in glaciers and are unavailable for our daily use. However, this fresh water is incredibly rare.
All living things use water for survival. If there is no water, there would be no life on earth. Apart from drinking, it is also used for cooking, washing utensils, washing clothes and for many other purposes. As a result of consumption, 1.1 billion people worldwide lacks access to fresh water and total 2.7 billion people find water scare through the year.
Coronavirus and the issue of water scarcity
Among many effects, water scarcity is one of the alarming effects of COVID-19. It is believed that washing hands for at least 20 seconds is the only defense against pandemics. But it is the fact that supply of clean water is very important for all the preventive health measures in the world.
Most of us are comforted by the fact that we can get water from our taps; if we find that to be not clean enough, we simply switch to buying and drinking bottled water. We opt out of the public water system and move to private water, forgetting that, the water we buy also comes from public sources — groundwater, in most cases. Even, if we buy bottled water because it is ‘safe’ to drink, and safe for washing hands, we are still releasing detergents. So, the more water we use, the more sewage we generate. If this sewage is not taken for wastewater treatment, it will add pollution and degrade water bodies.
The water crisis is primarily a health crisis. Let’s take the example of coronavirus. It is advised to wash hands for 20 seconds to kill the virus, this would mean roughly 1-2 liters per wash; washing hands frequently would mean that we need between 15-20 liters of water per person; only for handwashing, a household of five would need approximately 100 liters of water.
Water consumption will be high, by even assuming that we do not leave the tap running when we rub our hands with soap. Just imagine the level of water consumption when we leave the tap running while washing our hands. But, the water and soap are necessary to keep the virus away and to keep you safe.
This then is the challenge. Large numbers of people in the emerging world do not have access to water, how then will they be free of the virus?
The pandemic teaches us that we are weak without water. People will not be able to prevent the spread of the disease if they do not have access to clean water. It’s important to ensure that everybody has access to clean water and public health so that, nobody is left out and nobody can be the carrier of the virus.
The contagion will not be controlled. So, access to clean water is not just a fundamental right but it is absolutely necessary for preventing and controlling the diseases.
The good point is water, is a replenishable resource; we can make sure that we harvest every drop of rainwater; build local water storage systems; and recycle and reuse every drop of wastewater. Now, we need to get this fundamental right.
But the most important lesson of the current pandemic is that, we need to ensure everybody has access. This means that we must rework our water and wastewater management systems so that they are affordable for all.
Large numbers of people in our cities do not get access to piped water supply—this adds to the inequities in water distribution. Most of people gets water in tankers or depend on dirty and unreliable water sources for drinking and other needs, which in turn add to their health burden.
As we have confronted the new global enemy, the availability of water will be a crucial determinant for a successful outcome in this war. We all have to play our role in saving water. It’s the war of all. In order to fight and win this war against universal enemy we have to be united.
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by: Hira Gull