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Post COVIC-19 Water Catastrophe - 5 Lessons for the Developing World

24 Aug 2020 at 12:54hrs | Views
I am glad to pen up this script with much positivity about the end of COVID-19 pandemic, its short-lived, though its impacts are very catastrophic. Because COVID-19 is a reality, has its impacts been felt and efforts are being made to eradicate meaning one day it will be a thing of the past. However, it doesn't go without a trace. Are we therefore prepared to live with it and manage its effects, thereafter?

The COVID -19 pandemic is not premised on poor water supply and sanitation but on more complex transmission mechanisms that are associated with all viral sophistications. However, water supply and poor sanitation have been found to play key roles in the health and welfare of any community vis-a-vis the pandemic.  In other words, there are key water aftermath implications to COVID -19 which we cannot ignore. How prepared are countries, local authorities, water utilities and households in dealing with water needs now and beyond the pandemic?

There are principally five key lessons which should be drawn from the status quo. You may take a moment to think about the importance of water and impacts that result from its non-availability.  The first lesson regards water demand during-pandemic. Lockdown schedules have made many families to be within their homes for prolonged time periods and this is accompanied by high water demand and wastage. Home water losses go with revenue losses as well, thus there is need for concerted efforts in managing water usage in the homes.

The second lesson pertains to water consumer and knowledge management. Water utilities play key roles in ensuring that consumers are kept in the loop.  Information and knowledge management is key in ensuring that the level of consumer vulnerability is well assessed hence risk management. Consumers should be aware of the ongoings in the water sector so as to keep prepared for any looming risks. Does your water utility provide consistent information about water availability and the anticipated risks?

The third lesson pertains to infrastructure integrity. Water supply infrastructure, at every level of water supply from homes to water supply reservoirs, should always be maintained in a state that ensures sustainable water supply. Any kind of vandalism or non-maintenance, can result in water supply disruptions which are very impactful on human health. How are you ensuring that your water supply infrastructure is kept functioning? Do you know that a situation may arise when even those who are supposed to maintain it are not able to do so due to the pandemic?

The fourth lesson concerns revenue management by both consumers and water utilities. It is good around this time to make sure you have revenue or income reserves to cushion you during the pandemic times. A lot of unprecedented occasions can arise which require additional funds and as such it's good to have reserves in case of an eventuality. It may be difficult for me to specify the right amount but each circumstance and /or individuals or utilities have peculiar circumstances and needs. If the usual sources of water fail today, are you able to get water from alternative sources?

The fifth lesson is about post-pandemic water demand and lifestyle management. Because the future of this pandemic is unforeseeable, it is vital to manage one's lifestyle and consequently water demand and expenditure. After the pandemic, no one knows the ability of water utilities to supply water then. Water demands will increase as industries will be on a comeback. Adjusting during the pandemic will help you buffer yourself against post pandemic water shocks and stresses.

No one pandemic catastrophe is better than the other. A gamut of water-related challenges can be worse off than the COVID-19 pandemic. And we should prepare for potential water conflicts, water borne diseases, water insecurity and water scarcity. Let on one challenge obliterate your vision of future catastrophes, be mentally prepared!

Dr. Eugine Makaya is a lecturer at NUST's Department of Civil and Water Engineering. He can be contacted on : twitter @EugineMakaya

Source - Dr. Eugine Makaya
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