The Stream, April 8, 2020: In India, Residents Forced to Choose Between Handwashing and Social Distancing

The Global Rundown

Roughly eighty percent of people in India lack running water in their homes, complicating handwashing efforts during Covid-19. The city of Flint, Michigan, allocates nearly $75,000 to help residents with water bills during the coronavirus pandemic. A study by Duke University warns that water pollution can spread to other parts of an ecosystem. Water levels in Washington’s Yakima Basin reservoir measure slightly above-average, signaling a healthy supply for state agriculture. Aid groups attempt to prepare refugees in Jordan’s Za’atari camp for a possible coronavirus outbreak.

“Sanitation and hygiene levels are not ideal. We’re talking about a refugee camp, and facilities are challenging. A large portion of the population are children, and it’s hard to make them understand the need for isolation and extra handwashing.” –Mohammad Tahir, an external relations officer for UNHCR, in reference to conditions at Jordan’s Za’atari camp, which houses nearly 120,000 Syrian refugees. So far, there are no confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Za’atari, but humanitarian groups are bracing for the arrival of the virus, and trying to educate residents in the meantime. Aid workers say most people are staying indoors. A group of refugee entrepreneurs is also making and distributing hand soap among residents. UNHCR

In context: HotSpots H2O: Coronavirus Threat Rattles Water-Scarce Refugee Camps

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By The Numbers

$74,000 Funding that Flint, Michigan, is allocating to help residents pay their water bills during the Covid-19 pandemic. Lower-income residents, along with those who are currently unemployed, are eligible for a $75 credit on their water bills, which can be reapplied to three bills. MLive

In context: As Cities Suspend Shutoffs, Water Access and Hygiene at Front of Coronavirus Response

20 percent Proportion of India’s 1.3 billion residents who have piped running water. Many of the nation’s remaining residents rely on shared taps. Residents say the communal nature of these water sources is forcing them to choose between two key aspects of Covid-19 prevention: either go to crowded, shared water sources for frequent handwashing, or keep social distance but wash hands less. National Geographic 

Science, Studies, and Reports

A study by Duke University looked at stream pollution caused by a mountaintop mining operation in West Virginia, and found that several contaminants leached into local waterways. Researchers noted high levels of contaminants like selenium in water bugs, and the spiders that eat them, indicating that the pollution was moving through the food chain. Duke University 

On the Radar

Water in Washington’s Yakima Basin reservoir is currently measuring 102 percent of normal for this time of year. The healthy water reserve means that both farmers and fish should have an adequate supply of water throughout 2020. U.S. News & World Report


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