In support of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, the Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) launched an international campaign on Thursday, May 14, aimed at expanding access to water, sanitation and hygiene in Africa.

The goal is to ensure that water and sanitation systems are available, mobilizing funds to support countries in need and deliver accurate and credible information.

Global partners such as governments, donors, civil society organizations, and other development partners working to ensure that SWA’s goals are actualized.

The Hon. Kevin Rudd, SWA’s High-level Chair, said that “Access to clean water and sanitation is absolutely crucial to slow the spread of COVID-19.” 

“This is particularly important in countries with fragile healthcare systems or where social distancing is harder. The support from world leaders for this Call to Action is a strong demonstration of their support for the work of the United Nations’ partnership Sanitation and Water for All,” Rudd added.

In preventing the spread of COVID-19, water, sanitation, hand hygiene, and social distancing, are paramount. 

COVID-19 virus is transmitted through respiratory droplets or contact. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), washing of hands with water and soap kills the virus. 

It also interrupts the transmission of other viruses and bacteria causing common colds, flu, and pneumonia, thus reducing the general burden of disease.

But this can only be made possible when every individual has access to running water in sufficient quantities.

Over 400 million Africans lack access to safe water and nearly 800 million do not have access to basic hand washing facilities. This poses a huge challenge in the fight against COVID-19.

However, the African Development Bank (AfDB) has taken a lead role in African responses to the crisis and its effects. 

Last month, the bank released its COVID-19 Response Facility, which will serve as its primary channel for efforts to address the crisis by providing up to $10 billion to governments and the private sector.

In the last decade, AfDB has invested an estimated $6.2 billion in water supply and sanitation services and mobilized an estimated $150 million in climate finance from the Global Environmental Facility and the Green Climate Fund to co-finance water sector projects. 

This contribution has led to 52 million Africans gaining access to improved water supply and sanitation services.

The SWA statement emphasizes that “COVID-19 is not the first and will not be the last epidemic that countries will face.” It urged African leaders to  ensure this threat is not a missed opportunity to achieve the vision of universal access to water, sanitation, and hygiene.”

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