World, Health

3 billion people lack handwashing facilities: UN

UN-Water says 2 of 5 health care facilities lack handwashing equipment amid global COVID-19 pandemic

Peter Kenny   | 20.03.2020
3 billion people lack handwashing facilities: UN

GENEVA

As people across the world are urged to wash their hands against infection by the novel coronavirus, 3 billion people lack handwashing facilities in their homes, a UN-Water official said Friday.

Daniella Bostrom, communications manager for UN-Water, spoke to journalists in a virtual presser ahead of World Water Day on March 22 and World Meteorological Day on March 23.

"We would like to record that today 3 billion people do not have handwashing facilities in their homes and that two out of five health care facilities lack these facilities as well," said Bostrom.

At the same briefing, Clare Nullis, the World Meteorological Organization's (WMO) media officer, said that one of the most significant impacts of climate change was on water, which in turn impacted sustainable development and security.

"But in contrast to internationally coordinated information about rising temperatures, data on water resources are patchy and incomplete," said Nullis.

She added: "Water is life. On average, a human being cannot survive more than three days without water. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, an estimated 3 billion people worldwide lack basic handwashing facilities."

Nullis said that more than 2 billion people lived in countries experiencing high water stress, while around 4 billion faced severe water scarcity for at least one month every year.

"By 2050, the world's demand for freshwater will be 20 to 30 percent higher than it is today," she warned.

During the press briefing, the WMO released a statement by Secretary-General Petteri Taalas for World Meteorological Day, saying: "We feel the effects of climate change mostly through water: more floods, more droughts, more pollution. Just like viruses, these climate and water-related shocks respect no natural boundaries."

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