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The Pandemic Is Laying Bare a Global Water Crisis


Days after he shared images of municipal workers disinfecting the streets of Addis Ababa with high-powered hoses, Mayor Takele Uma Banti found himself struggling to explain a 72-hour water shortage.

For the 4.8 million residents of Ethiopia’s capital city, interruptions to the water supply are nothing new. But in the grip of a pandemic, the latest disruption threw into sharp relief the inequality created by limited and unpredictable access to clean water. Without a treatment or a vaccine, the primary advice to prevent the spread of the coronavirus is regular hand-washing and good hygiene. But this is out of reach for millions of Ethiopians living without sustainable access to clean water, laying bare the critical link between water and public health.

Water crises were ranked above both infectious diseases and food crises in the World Economic Forum’s latest Global Risks Report. This year, the world is likely to see all three.

Inequality in water access worldwide will shape the course of the pandemic; it must also be a priority in post-coronavirus economic reconstruction.In the immediate term, it is essential that clean water reaches as many people as possible to enable them to take the basic precautions needed to reduce the risk of infection from the coronavirus. Improving access to water, sanitation, and hygiene systems could bring down the overall global disease burden by 9 percent and reduce the number of deaths to disease by more than 6 percent. This cannot be achieved when more than 840 million people worldwide currently lack basic supply. In the Arab region alone, for example, more than 74 million people are at greater risk of contracting COVID-19 because they lack the facilities to properly wash their hands. Inequality in water access worldwide will shape the course of the pandemic; it must also be a priority in post-coronavirus economic reconstruction.

In Ethiopia, the International Water Management Institute has mobilized trained members of the public, known as parahydrologists, to collect data on household knowledge of the coronavirus and assess how the current access and use of water affects disease mitigation measures. This information will help scientists and public agencies identify, among other things, more effective ways of implementing mitigation measures such as social distancing. This might include finding alternatives to communal water points, where people from several households might gather at the same time and risk spreading the virus.

Even amid a water shortage, new technologies have given struggling families tools to address shortfalls. For instance, the expansion of relatively low-cost solar-powered irrigation pumps in low-income countries can provide a new ways for farmers to access more reliable water supplies, not only for irrigation but also for their daily use. The pumps cost around $1,000, and some governments have experimented with financing models to subsidize the cost and make them affordable for farmers. Solar pumps and other water-lifting technologies could be scaled up to reduce potential knock-on effects from the pandemic in remote areas by increasing access to safer and more reliable groundwater. Other low-cost technologies include simple hand-pump designs and rainwater harvesting structures, including from rooftops. The challenge, however, remains one of balancing water availability with water quality, including suitability for consumption at a domestic level.

 In the longer term, new and emerging technologies including satellites and drones will monitor water resources faster and more accurately, allowing scientists to identify water-related risks on the horizon further ahead of time and to prepare people for future shocks.

For example, one new initiative will use remote-sensing technology to gather continent-wide data on water in Africa over the next three years and store this in a format ready to be analyzed in an open-source database. The aim is to equip governments and regional agencies with the information needed to make early decisions about managing water and reallocating resources where necessary. This could be a crucial tool in understanding better the trade-offs and complexities in water allocation between domestic, agricultural, and industrial use, as well as safeguarding the future of environmental flows in river basins under significant pressure. These measures could help to mitigate the impact of future destructive floods and droughts on food security, as well as help ensure clean water access for poor households as a first line of defense against the spread of disease. Greater public and private investment in such tools will help improve modeling and forecasting systems, not only minimizing the risk of water-related setbacks to the global recovery from coronavirus, but helping countries better cope with droughts, floods, and other disasters going forward.

Compromises around water use are seen across economic sectors, and this has become more acute during the pandemic. Demand for food from a rising global population will only continue to grow after the outbreak has subsided, meaning water resources will have to be more carefully managed to ensure irrigation for crops does not come at the cost of household hygiene.

Current food systems often operate on assumptions of security, gambling with “just enough, just in time” approaches to maximize efficiency and profit. But the panic sparked by measures to control the coronavirus pandemic highlights the vulnerability of these systems to external shocks and stresses.

In cities, water planning and management needs to focus more on reusing water to balance the needs of a rising population with the production of increasing levels of waste and wastewater. In Addis Ababa, for example, the Akaki River supplies irrigation water for farmers downstream, who then supply food products to the city’s population—even though their irrigation source is heavily polluted with industrial and domestic waste.

The capital is far from alone in this: Some 380 billion cubic meters of wastewater are produced globally every year, yet there is untapped potential to reuse and repurpose even this volume. Within this waste can be found an estimated 16.6 million metric tons of nitrogen, a key nutrient for plant growth and one that is often applied on farms in the form of fertilizer. By extracting this nitrogen, wastewater could be used to help improve soil fertility and offset 13 percent of global agricultural demand for fertilizers. Extracting nutrients and energy from wastewater while mitigating health risks therefore becomes a classic win-win for people and the environment. The adoption of a circular economy, in which new uses are found for waste, helps increase the value of what might otherwise be thrown away, and this can help in financing waste reuse and upcycling. But ultimately this is a public-policy choice—and will require heavy subsidies and investment by the state, working in partnership with consumers and producers.

Building a post-coronavirus economy means reimagining how producers and consumers value water and water security, and how we might grow economies more equitably and safely. But changing directions will not be easy. Public finance and political commitment will have to come to the fore, combined with new investment partnerships and stronger governance at all levels. Exploiting and governing new technologies effectively will also be essential to support longer-term transformations required to better manage the world’s water resources. The world must fundamentally reassess the value of safe and secure access to water supplies for all. If it doesn’t, the poorest will be disproportionately affected, but all of us will ultimately suffer from the threat to human security.

As nations begin to peek under the curtain of the global lockdown and start preparations for reopening their economies, governments should begin with an abundance of caution. Rather than returning to our current, broken systems, we must tackle future risks head-on. Without a sea change in our economic growth models to prioritize water for the poor and for healthier, more sustainable food systems and environments, we will continue to face further jeopardy and future risks. At a time when public health demands widespread basic hygiene and sanitation, this is an opportunity to finally make good on the promise of “water for all.”


41 Comments on "The Pandemic Is Laying Bare a Global Water Crisis"

  1. Boxnovel on Wed, 13th May 2020 1:54 am 

    Different countries face different problems at this time because of the Pandemic….Things are hard now….

  2. makati1 on Wed, 13th May 2020 3:19 am 

    When you live in a desert…

  3. joe on Wed, 13th May 2020 3:24 am 

    the common cold hysteria caused by twitter posts using videos ‘leaked’on ‘china truth’ from Hong Kong has done untold harm to allot of things.

    At least the truth about Obamagate is coming out. Will Clinton throw Obama under the bus and get out in front of the inevitable indictments? You betcha! Pass the popcorn…….

  4. Abraham van Helsing on Wed, 13th May 2020 4:21 am 

    If you are old like me or Corona unemployed, here is how to survive if you only have 7 plastic pots and 7 starter potatoes:


    I currently have my garden littered with ca. 50 of those plastic buckets, bought for almost nothing:

    Buckets have the advantage that you can optimize the use of limited garden space (I have 100 m2 + 30 m2 terrace). These bucket occupy most of the terrace.

    Take your drilling machine and make holes at the bottom, put a few cm clay granules at the bottom for a water buffer and easy drainage of excess water…

    …put in sand mixed with pot soil, but the bucket only half full, put in the potato and ensure that during the growth you constantly add soil (“earth up”/”aanaarden”) until the entire bucket is full. Hardly need for weeding. After 4 month you can harvest… or leave them in the ground for storage until you are ready to eat.

    If you don’t have money for buckets you can grow them in a plastic garbage sack as well:

    Oh and if you are young and have a career, better stay away from gardening as it is time consuming. For a stay-at-home mom it is practical.

  5. Abraham van Helsing on Wed, 13th May 2020 4:27 am 

    Here the painting of Vincent van Gogh, “de aardappeleters” (“potato eaters”):

    The scene is in Nuenen, a village 1 hour walk from where I live.

    This is how people survived in the 19th century, until the (Jewish) Philips family came to town and everything changed:

  6. Davy on Wed, 13th May 2020 8:29 am 

    the cracks open up with of course the issue of who pays:

    “EU Threatens To Sue After Germany Questions Legality Of ECB Bond Buying Program”

    “Germany and the EU are in the midst of an escalating legal struggle that could wreak havoc for the Eurozone. The struggle came to a head on Sunday when the EU threatened to sue Germany after the country’s top court questioned the ECB’s bond buying program. The program was approved by a 15 judge EU panel in December 2018. The question is one of which court holds the power: under EU treaties, the EU Court of Justice should rank higher. That was the court that cleared the central bank’s bond purchases, which have totaled $2.9 trillion since 2015. But German judges said the country could “deviate because the bloc’s top judges overstepped their powers when they backed the ECB’s policy in a previous ruling,” according to Bloomberg. Naturally, this drew criticism from European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who commented on Sunday: “The final word on EU law is always spoken by the European court. Nowhere else…Germany’s hand remains to be seen. The country’s court, which is held in high favor by its citizens, has championed civil liberties and has high approval rates. Bloomberg even speculated that Chancellor Angela Merkel may want to lose the case on purpose, so Germany’s leaders could still say it protected Germany’s constitution, while ultimately caving to the EU. Germany has repeatedly challenged the ECB’s bond buying program and Eurozone bailouts. Soon, we predict, other countries could follow suit. The jig for the EU appears to be close to up. Central Banks could be next…”

  7. open letter to my little small tiny big brother joe supertard on Wed, 13th May 2020 8:52 am 

    the muzzielove virus shows we’re sheeps bBAAaaHHh. BAAaaHHh BAAaaHHh. BAAaaHHh
    i don’t claim to know the past, i only read about it. i know the presence.
    i caution against following the sheeps. right now sheeps are locked down in the pen, the next action could be culling.

  8. l on Wed, 13th May 2020 9:24 am 

    Canada: Calgary’s muzzie mayor gives mosques permission to “break noise bylaws” during Ramadan
    thanks supertard christine douglas williams

  9. l on Wed, 13th May 2020 10:20 am 

    Ramadan 2020 special: muzzies Attack Maternity Ward, Killing Infants, Mothers, and Nurses (Kabul, Afghanistan)

    small fries included

  10. Abraham van Helsing on Wed, 13th May 2020 10:31 am 

    “Beijing denounces ‘immoral’ US Senate bill threatening China with sanctions over Covid-19”

    Overview 21 largest solar parks in the world. #1 in Dubai will have 5 GW:

    Don’t tell Michael Moore.

  11. Duncan Idaho on Wed, 13th May 2020 10:41 am 

    Thought the Fat Boy and the Thugs could make the Dog Track positive today.

    Dow 30

  12. supertard abe sock on Wed, 13th May 2020 10:45 am 

    why doesn’t whitey supertard president trunp amputate whitey supertard president fauci

    as a tard and former paultard, we all know who is driven and who is not, both types are bad but a sloth can’t destroy liberty and the republic and the rights amendments to the costituion that whitey supertard presidents founders fought hard for?

    forget the hypocratic oath or whatever you call. demand swearing to defend america against enemies forereign and domestic and promptly amputae for violating the oath

  13. SocialRevolutionComing on Wed, 13th May 2020 11:00 am 

    The Western civilization has died. Very soon human will be able to freely roam through the earth as a free wild animal.

  14. SocialRevolutionComing on Wed, 13th May 2020 11:26 am 

    Europe is panicking and trying to save the dying Western civilization. Funny as hell the CIVOD hoax has completely kill it.

    The European Union on Wednesday called on its members to reopen their internal borders to facilitate tourism, despite the continuation of the pandemic of new coronavirus, which has killed 292,000 people on the planet, including more than 160,000 on the Old Continent, most affected.

    L’Union européenne a appelé mercredi ses membres à rouvrir leurs frontières intérieures pour faciliter le tourisme, en dépit de la poursuite de la pandémie de nouveau coronavirus, qui a fait 292.000 morts sur la planète, dont plus de 160.000 sur le Vieux Continent, le plus touché.

  15. SocialRevolutionComing on Wed, 13th May 2020 12:07 pm 

    Ignore what I’ve typed. The liquid farts covid virus has got me. The stench in my pit of despair is awful. The toilet paper ran out this morning.
    For almost a month it has raged in my system and rendered my typed coments to that of a complete cunt.

  16. Duncan Idaho on Wed, 13th May 2020 12:10 pm 

    Dow 30
    Well, he Fat Boy has been bankrupt 6 times.

  17. supertard sock SocialRevolutionComing Official on Wed, 13th May 2020 12:12 pm 

    Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past
    – supertard JuanP plagiarizing whiteys upertard president orwell

  18. supertard abe sock on Wed, 13th May 2020 12:14 pm 

    supertard for the muzzie tard a durka durka durka!

    I too have run out of the toilet paper and been shitting all morning. Oh god the stench!

    The end could be near If I dont drink more disinfectant with my froot loops but I will continue to type utter bollocks and attack Orange people with anti Orangist comments!

    Ive lost 14 pounds this week on the covid 19 diet! 🙂

  19. Bruce Lee's evil twin on Wed, 13th May 2020 12:21 pm 

    Here in sunny Wuhamn 12 billion of us have died. In my household I have 46 spare toilet rolls and am fully prepared.

    I have 28 boxes of noodles
    43 Harry Pothead cds
    173 packets of donuts
    288 boxes of ammo

  20. Davy of Amerricuh' on Wed, 13th May 2020 12:25 pm 

    FUCK OFF! Mince off to the gay bar why don’t ya!

    thats nothing! Ive got 640 boxes of ammo in case the feds make me use the tracking app and consent to tracking.

    I just need a gun now.

  21. supertard sock SocialRevolutionComing Official on Wed, 13th May 2020 12:32 pm 

    “Who controls their farts does not have the covid, Who has the covid can not control their farts”

    – supertard sock SocialRevolutionComing Official May’20

  22. Abraham van Helsing on Wed, 13th May 2020 12:34 pm 

    This week Ive mostly been eating cheese!

  23. Duncan Idaho on Wed, 13th May 2020 12:41 pm 

    I too have the liquid farts
    my comments have been reduced to that of a total cunt from the side effects of a cabbage only diet and rapid weight loss from the dysentary like symptoms.

  24. Duncan Idaho on Wed, 13th May 2020 12:48 pm 

    “Elect a clown, expect a circus”

  25. JuanP on Wed, 13th May 2020 12:52 pm 

    FUCK me OFF boys! Mince off to the gay bar why don’t ya!

    thats nothing rim me please! Ive got 640 boxes of ammo in case the feds make me use the tracking app and consent to tracking.

    I just need a dildo now.

  26. PVing in the Wind on Wed, 13th May 2020 1:00 pm 

    Hmm, lets see, 5,000 MW/ 272,000,000 MW * 100 is a big ol’ zilch. Dubai is pissing in the desert winds.

  27. A concerned forum member on Wed, 13th May 2020 1:07 pm 

    JuanP has made a fool of himself over the virus recently and many other pertinent issues over the years. He now floods the forum with his trash comments in his mental illness. He is a foul mouthed narcissistic fool. He needs to be booted by the owners.

  28. A concerned forum member on Wed, 13th May 2020 1:08 pm 

    juanPee is a racist asshole

  29. A concerned forum member on Wed, 13th May 2020 1:09 pm 

    JuanP personality type
    narcissistic sociopathy, or what some circles might call “psychopathy”. Criminology indicates that not all criminals are full blown narcissistic sociopaths, but most full blown narcissistic sociopaths are criminals. Some are simply more successful criminals than others, and this usually depends on their ability to blend in and mimic or manipulate normal people. Full blown narcissistic sociopaths (or psychopaths) make up around 1% of any given population, but are responsible for the vast majority of violent crimes or criminal enterprises. The lion’s share of justice system resources are used in dealing with these people, as they are four to eight times more likely than the average person to use violence in daily interactions or as a tool to gain advantage, and twenty-five times more likely to end up in prison. There is a long list of character traits that make a narcissistic sociopath, but the defining features are a complete lack of conscience and empathy, a propensity for moral relativism (the ability to rationalize any and all destructive behavior), a desperate need to be adored or admired by everyone around them, a feeling of being “more special” than most people, a feeling of superiority, delusions of grandeur or an inherent right to manage the lives of others, an obsessive need to control and manipulate, impulsive desires and deviant sexual inclinations, and elitist associations (they will only associate with people they feel are like them and are “equally superior”). A defining fact of narcissistic sociopathy is that these traits are inborn, not a product of environment. In some cases environment can play a role in activating these traits, but if a person is not born with them, they generally do not adopt them later in life because of a traumatic environment. The following documentaries linked here and here are an excellent overview of high level narcissistic sociopaths. Narcissistic sociopaths defy all forms of treatment and cannot be reformed. They have no concrete personality beyond these traits, therefore, if you remove the traits, they are left with nothing else. They are almost anti-human; while most people are born with unique personality combinations, narcissistic sociopaths have none, so they mimic the personalities of those around them, mirroring behaviors and collecting or stealing quirks.

  30. A concerned forum member on Wed, 13th May 2020 3:11 pm 

    there are lots of muzzies and muzzies lovers on this forum so it’s hard to find authentic muzzie ck to suck.
    always look for the dress and the beard ..these can be fake so you need to use words of mouth etc.

    amputating the supremacist muzzies can release hormones that makes the muzzie ck tastes grater.

    just fyi

  31. A concerned davy sock puppet on Wed, 13th May 2020 5:41 pm 

    I’ve just about run out of TP. Not that I used that stuff much before the pandeimicx hit. Was kind of expensive, especially the one-ply stuff. If anyone can spare some, please forward as much as you can to my fortress in Dent county Missouri as soon as possible.

    Oh, and I hate you so much juanpee it makes my brain hurt even thinking about it. You’d think I would gotten used to that by now, nope.

  32. JuanP on Wed, 13th May 2020 5:45 pm 

    JuanPee is a prick that needs to be run off this forum. Everyone hates the dickhead.

  33. makati1 on Wed, 13th May 2020 5:48 pm 

    I’ll be glad when this flu bullshit is over and the Amerikan prisoners can leave their cells…er….homes. Maybe they will find something else to do other than to crap up this site with their own immature bullshit.

    Ah well. They are just proving how low the US has sunk into the swamp of stupidity and desperation. Sigh!

  34. JuanP on Wed, 13th May 2020 6:09 pm 

    Mak, I hope you choke on a fish bone

  35. Davy on Wed, 13th May 2020 7:18 pm 

    juanpee, I hope you choke on an enchilada.

  36. Mohammad of Aramco on Wed, 13th May 2020 8:13 pm 

    Durka durka durka, 6.2L Dodge bakala durka
    oil jihad!

  37. JuanP on Wed, 13th May 2020 8:38 pm 

    Hey Mohammad. You stupid fuck

  38. REAL Green on Wed, 13th May 2020 10:58 pm 

    We’re REAL Stupid davy if we still believe one single person on PO dot com doesn’t no juanPee is us.


  39. Welch on Thu, 14th May 2020 11:12 pm 

    Y’all on here need psychological help. And have for some years.

  40. l on Fri, 15th May 2020 1:34 am 

    the stupid freaks are in control. Let’s hope an american revolution coming soon and we take the opportunity to amputate all muzzies starting with muzzie imams.

  41. Richard Guenette on Fri, 15th May 2020 1:50 pm 

    Desalination is too expensive to use and maintain. Water conservation is the answer. The real threat to our world’s water supplies is corporations (like Nestle, Coca-Cola etc.)

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