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ESCWA: More than 74 million people are at risk of Covid-19 in the Arab region

The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) has published a new study, highlighting the impact of the global epidemic on this water-scarce region.

The study said that at a time when the world agrees that washing hands with soap and water is the best way to prevent coronavirus transmission, this simple recommendation turns into a complicated matter in the Arab region, where more than 74 million people lack hand washing facilities.

Through this study, ESCWA expects that the demand for water for hand washing in homes will increase by 9 to 12 liters per person per day, without calculating other water requirements for clothes washing, food and cleaning.

The rate of increasing domestic demand for water will range between four and five million cubic meters per day in the region. The situation is made worse by insufficient supply of piped water for homes in 10 out of 22 Arab countries.

According to the ESCWA study, about 87 million people in the Arab region also lack drinking water at their place of residence, which increases the risk of them contracting the Corona virus due to their having to fetch water from public sources.

The study showed that refugees and those who are under conflict or occupation bear an additional burden. In the Gaza Strip, which is one of the most densely populated areas in the world, only one out of ten households has access to clean water.

It is expected that 26 million refugees and displaced people in the region are at greater risk of contracting the Corona virus due to their lack of water, sanitation and hygiene services.

ESCWA called for more measures to ensure water quality, especially in wastewater treatment networks, where poor water quality increases the risk of transmission.

The new study comes as part of a series to assess the impact of the Corona virus prepared by ESCWA to support Arab countries in their joint efforts to mitigate the effects of this global epidemic.