A year in water and sanitation: battling Covid-19 and climate

Themes: Climate change WASH Water

We reach the end of 2021, with Covid-19 and climate change having exacerbated the historic lack of access to water and sanitation for many around the world.

Despite these challenges, it has been a year of many achievements. With Covid-19 and climate change permeating nearly everything WSUP has worked on in 2021, WSUP has continued to provide invaluable support to city authorities, utilities, local communities and other partners to improve the availability of water, sanitation and hygiene. Here is a roundup of some of the initiatives we worked on last year:

Raising awareness

The campaigns WSUP started in 2020 around hygiene to fight Covid-19 continued into 2021. In Ghana and Kenya, communication around Covid-19 prevention awareness was directed to the wider public, in Bangladesh WSUP worked with garment manufacturers Kontoor and VF Corporation to target thousands of their factory workers and their communities, including women and children.

Improved hygiene practices were taught, and new facilities were installed, and the result was communities actively engaged in the fight against Covid-19 – a reality that will continue throughout 2022.

Extending access to services

WSUP has continued to work alongside utilities and other partners in order to provide access to water and sanitation. From projects in Mozambique, including schools in Maputo and entire neighbourhoods in Beira, to extensive provision of water in new towns in Uganda, our efforts have reached new groups of residents.

We have supported humanitarian agencies to improve water and sanitation in refugee communities, and our Clean Team subsidiary in Ghana continues to provide high-quality container based sanitation services in the city of Kumasi.

Strengthening city partnerships

During 2021, considering the size and complexity of the challenges in water and sanitation that low-income communities face, partnerships between WSUP and city authorities and providers became even more essential.

While in Madagascar’s capital, Antananarivo, WSUP’s partnership with local utility JIRAMA continued to bring very important improvements for residents, in Kenya our work with Malindi Water & Sewerage Company (MAWASCO) is providing Malindi with a long-term plan to sort out its sanitation crisis.

Climate action

In the run-up to COP26 WSUP’s new report – The missing link in climate adaptation: How improved access to water and sanitation is helping cities adapt to climate change – highlighted the importance of building in WASH to urban climate adaptation initiatives. WSUP led sessions at the Water Pavilion at COP26 to highlight this key message and demonstrate how water and sanitation improvements in the poorest communities can increase urban resilience.

We now look forward to 2022 where we will continue to provide urban communities with long lasting solutions and increase the capacity of local authorities and residents to deal with future challenges.

Top image: Hygiene session in Chattogram, Bangladesh, part of the fight against Covid-19