28 April 2020

Handwashing helps stop COVID-19. But in India, water is scarce

Only a fifth of all households in this nation of 1.3 billion have piped running water. That makes frequent handwashing a challenge.

BY NILANJANA BHOWMICK (Article from National Geographic)

In the village of Kaithi, in the Bundelkhand region in north central India, there is one shared tap for every five households. Bundelkhand has suffered 13 droughts in the last two decades. Water shortage is a way of life there. And with COVID-19 now spreading rapidly, people in Kaithi and other villages face a disconcerting choice: They can wash their hands or they can keep their social distance, but it’s hard to practice both methods of warding off the disease at the same time.

“We are not allowing too many people to crowd around the taps and trying to wash our hands as much as possible,” said Kaithi resident Mangal Singh. He left his job as a driver in Delhi to return to his native village around two weeks ago, just before Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered India’s 1.3 billion citizens to stay inside their homes for at least three weeks.

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