Analysis: A New Year Brings Enduring Challenges: Financing for Water and Sanitation Utilities During COVID-19
Eleven months have passed since COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). As we rang in the new year, the world surpassed two million deaths due to COVID-19. While it is encouraging that 77 countries have distributed 168 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, only a small fraction of these are in low-income countries. Vaccinations may not be widely distributed in most of sub-Saharan Africa until 2022-2023. Furthermore, the new COVID-19 variant recently discovered in South Africa is estimated to be 50 percent more contagious, underscoring the need for a collaborative international response.
As new variants of COVID-19 emerge and outpace vaccination delivery, WHO continues to stress the basic precautions of mask-wearing, social distancing, and handwashing, the last of which requires regular delivery of basic water services. Yet, there are few indications that funding for such water services is being prioritized or integrated into health sector programming and budgeting by governments or donors.