Water is crucial in fight against coronavirus, UN says as it marks World Water Day



March 21, 2020






March 21, 2020





The World Water Day and the start of the third year of the Water Action Decade are observed during a historic challenge to save lives in the novel coronavirus pandemic. Scientists are pointing to the connection between global warming and water usage. The time is crucial in the battle for clean water.

The United Nations stressed the importance of hand hygiene ahead of World Water Day, March 22, pointing to the need to slow the spread of COVID-19. The observance day, started in 1993, comes at a difficult time for society throughout the world. Experts and international organizations are promoting the regular use of water and soap and alcohol-based disinfectants as the best barriers against the coronavirus, but also uncountable other infections.

The campaign is about access to freshwater and safe water. Activists and scientists are pointing to sustainable and simple solutions, with an accent on sanitation, that can help mitigate climate change. More efficient use reduces the risk of floods, droughts and catastrophic weather events and even pollution, research results have shown.

Moreover, it seems the odds are worsening with any delay as more water resources are lost or they deteriorate in quality with time and with every natural disaster and man-made accident. It goes without saying how important it is for the growing population as it depends on a rise in food production and the improvement in agricultural yields.

This year’s official slogan is Water and Climate Change. The environmental movement is pressuring governments to take action centered on clean water.

The disruption in the balance in places like the sea, rain forests and permafrost elevates the risk of massive releases of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, exacerbating the situation. There also seems to be a connection with disease outbreaks.

Every drop counts

The initiative’s leaders have a simple message for everyone. Don’t waste water.

Individuals can make gradual changes in their lifestyles and contribute. Farmers are adapting their irrigation systems. We can wash our dishes and clean vegetables more efficiently. Even fixing a leak in the toilet or faucet makes a major difference for one person or a household. In other words, every drop counts.


  • Turn the water off while shaving and brushing teeth
  • Install a showerhead that limits flow
  • Modify watering the lawn or garden with regard to weather conditions
  • Get a rainwater tank
  • Find a use for leftover water in bottles and from cooking
  • Get an extension for the hose to boost pressure and reduce expenditure during washing
  • Push local officials to invest in sewage and wastewater management

The International Decade for Action on Water for Sustainable Development was launched exactly two years ago.

UN chief warns of dire consequences

“Global heating and unsustainable use will create unprecedented competition for water resources, leading to the displacement of millions of people. This will negatively affect health and productivity and act as a threat multiplier for instability and conflict,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said. He warned that by 2050, between 3.5 and 4.4 billion people may live with limited access to water, with more than 1 billion of them living in cities.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres warns global warming and the unsustainable use of water increase the risk of conflicts and that they may result in the displacement of millions of people down the line

Guterres urged stakeholders to ramp up investments in healthy watersheds and water infrastructure and take climate action.

Warm water, soap and songs stopping coronavirus

Of note, the Safe Hands campaign has been gaining popularity on social media. Following a call by the World Health Organization, physicians and singers have taken the lead to promote hygiene and help save lives from the novel coronavirus. Washing hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds with warm water and soap can greatly diminish the danger.

People have also been making videos of themselves washing hands and singing their favorite songs in the Hand Wash Challenge. The UN agency operates within its Sustainable Development Group.

Unfortunately, two out of every five people still lack access to soap and clean water at home and even one out of six healthcare units in the world don’t have hand hygiene facilities. Hundreds of thousands of deaths per year are attributed to the issue.

Last year’s theme was Leaving No One Behind. The UN’s intention was to put the spotlight on marginalized people and groups and their struggles related to the matter. Water, the common link for all life, is essential for human health as it is for nature.

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