Friday the 13th 2020, in light of the fight against corona horror, a massive social media campaign was kicked off by Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director of the World Health Organization. The ‘Safe Hands Challenge’, urges people to wash their hands for 20–30 seconds to prevent the transmission of disease.
Within a few days of its launch, the campaign generated massive participation and media hype. Secretary-General of the UN António Guterres, Philanthropist Melinda Gates, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Priyanka Chopra, Journalist Fareed Zakaria, various head of states and celebrities posted videos of themselves washing hands with soap and water.
No one should question the objective and motive of the campaign, given the unprecedented situation, created by COVID 19. Washing hands with soap and water are not only critical to stopping the spread of the virus for yourself, but also prevent someone else from getting infected by it. Studies have indicated that 20–30 seconds of simple handwashing with soap and water reduces the bacterial count by 58%, while the alcohol-based hand rubs reduce the count by 83%.
The viral nature of the campaign will mean increasing the adoption and bringing a cultural change in hygiene practices across the globe.
So what’s the fuss? We need to wash hands and we need water
If you watch the WHO video closely, you would observe that tap that Mr. Tedros Adhanom use never get closed, wasting some precious liters of waters. We don’t want to sound cynic but in many of the social media videos, they follow a similar pattern where people can be seen opening the tap and not closing it (when rubbing the hands with the soap). An argument can be made that we should not touch the tap when the hands are still dirty. While that is correct, using an elbow is an option, if the tap is a lever based, (as was seen in Priyanka Chopra’s video) but it is difficult to do if it is rotating tap.
While the world understood the demand for personal hygiene, there appeared fundamental neglect of water conservation in the process which was overshadowed by increasing tension due to COVID-19 disease. Without taking anything away from the importance of hand wash, we should be cognizant of the acute water scarcity the world is staring at.
Interestingly, about 9 days later, on 22nd March, we celebrated World Water Day, which is observed annually to highlight the importance of freshwater and its sustainable management. Some quick facts and statistics gathered from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) website reveal a scary picture.
The people who don’t believe in random numbers can Google about the severe water crisis that South African city Cape Town faced a couple of years ago. With rising global temperatures, depleting lakes & rivers and massive urbanization, many cities around the world are currently encountering acute water shortages. With approaching summer, things are looking extremely dangerous.
Imagine a scenario, if there is no water and there is another global pandemic like Corona. What will we do? Where will we go?
So what should we do?
While initiatives like rainwater harvesting, micro-irrigation, wastewater re-cycle should be strongly encouraged among the communities but considering the investment and resources it needs, it is not something that can be managed at an individual level.
Like the Safe Hand Challenge, we need to do something around ‘Save Water’ as well; people need to be educated about water scarcity and being judicious about water conservation. The mindset needs to be changed to efficiently use and re-use water. If we don’t take care of it now, there might be another kind of pandemic, which might create devastation greater than Corona.
So here you go, Water Conservation Tips
Below are a few techniques to save water at a family or an individual level, which doesn’t require any monetary investment, but some consideration and patience.
- Try to close the tap when not directly washing and reduce the pressure to a minimum. As simple as that.
Bath and Showers
Showers are typically the third-largest source of water consumption after toilets and clothes washer. We can save about 500 liters a month by reducing shower time by 3–4 minutes.
Another technique could be, if we can place an empty bucket beside the shower area, the excess water which falls off can be collected for re-use. We can collect about 100 liters a month by following this simple method.
- Dirty water collected after the shower or the wash, can be used to flush the toilet.
Washing fruits and vegetables
- Wherever possible, we can wash the fruits and vegetables in a bucket or a bowl, such that excess water can be collected
Use the least amount of water for mopping the floor, instead of a big bucket, use in small installments. (Not applicable to homes which do vacuum cleaning)
- Put the excess and dirty water in the plants and garden
- Wash your kitchen utensils immediately, when it is still moist and not wait when it gets dry, which makes it more difficult to wash and invariably consumes more water
- Fill the kitchen sink with all the soiled vessels, drown them with water and add a few drops of washing liquid. It becomes slightly easier to wash and consume some less water
- Use the washing machine, when we have enough clothes for optimum utilization. If there are only a few clothes, it is better to wash them in a tub or bucket instead of the washing machine.
Here is a quick video that we have made on tips to save water, if you like it, you can share it with your friends and bookmark it for future reference.
Originally published at http://changestarted.com on March 31, 2020.