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Opinion

Ensuring safe water in educational institutions


 
Published : 06 Sep 2020 08:29 PM | Updated : 13 Sep 2020 10:24 AM
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Undoubtedly, Covid-19 is a human-centric virus which is actually damaging the economic, financial as well as health systems of the country. The health of adults alongside children is at risk due to this virus. One of the crucial elements of health protection is clean water which is lacking in the schools of the country. 

Children are being deprived of safe water and sanitation, as a result of which the incidence of coronavirus infection is increasing. According to sources, 90% of school-going children worldwide are infected with the coronavirus, which is about 1.57 billion.

A report of UNICEF revealed that “Global school closures in response to the Covid-19 pandemic present an unprecedented risk to children’s education and wellbeing. 

Prolonged closures will have negative impacts on learning outcomes and disrupt school-based services essential for the nutrition, health, welfare, and protection of vulnerable children.”

Ensuring clean and safe water is an important issue in any epidemic or a disaster like Covid-19. Personal protection against coronavirus, especially frequent hand washing, is a priority. 

In that case, there is no substitute for ensuring safe water. The global coronavirus pandemic has so far spread to more than 200 countries and 8,62,178 people have died because of this virus.

Table 1 shows that school-going children around the world are not getting safe water and sanitation facilities in this coronavirus situation.

The concern is that educational institutions lack safe water and sanitation and in many cases, poor situation in cleaning and disinfection or waste management in schools. The report by UNICEF also mentioned that “in Tunisia, 18.5% of primary schools reported lacking sufficient equipment, cleaning products, disinfectant or staff for cleaning and disinfection.”

There is evidence that about 5 million children under the age of five die every year due to lack of safe water. The proper use of safe water and other related materials is very important for the psychological development of the child. On the other hand, frequent hand washing is being given importance as a way to get rid of corona virus. Therefore, the prime point behind putting emphasis on safe and clean water is that all stakeholders should try to adhere to the following points: 

•      Ensure hand hygiene. For instance - hand washing with soap and water, alcohol-based hand-rub, or antiseptic hand-wash after having contact with respiratory materials or objects;

•    Wash hands frequently with soap alongside clean water;

•    Ensure safe drinking water for keeping body fit for preventing coronavirus;

•    Ensure hygienic latrines for better waste management to curb epidemics;

•    Promote hygiene education.The child's intellectual development is being hindered due to unsafe drinking water and an unsanitary environment. 

So, it is the right time to put emphasis on WASH education in the educational institutions for combating water-borne diseases as well as Covid-19.


Toufique Hossain is a finance & economics columnist and Abu Aslam is a Senior Program Manager at water.org. The authors have expressed their own ideas in this article and those have no affiliation with the organisation.