How to treat and use water in rural areas to prevent the spread of IDRC-19?

In 2019 the world discovered a new coronavirus, (COVID-19), which in a very short time expanded around the planet and has changed the dynamics of human activities. For this reason, it is important to prevent its spread by acting collectively.

Although the presence of the COVID-19 virus has not been detected in water and sanitation supplies, it is vital to take into account the reality of the Colombian countryside, where health services are precarious and water and sanitation systems are limited. Therefore, measures must be taken and rural communities must be protected.

Therefore, the Pan American Health Organization - PAHO believes that the institutions responsible for water and sanitation, health facilities and the community can have a positive impact on mitigating the crisis and preventing the spread of the virus.

Community aqueducts and institutions responsible for rural water and sanitation

The Pan American Health Organization - PAHO calls for rural water and sanitation services to be managed in safe ways, ensuring that national standards are taken into account. In this way, it considers it important that water service providers identify the characteristics of their communities, determine the appropriate measures to reduce and eliminate the dangers in the spread of the virus and arrange them in a document, poster, audio or video and make the information public to their users.

In short, it recommends these measures to improve water safety:

  • 1. Disinfect the water centrally and effectively: after contact with the water disinfect it with chlorine at ≥ 0.5 mg/L
  • Strengthen the monitoring of the water and sanitation system.
  • 3. Carry out adequate washing of storage tanks, water distribution pipes, collection and consumption.
  • 4. Consider technologies such as home filters for families in their homes.
  • 5. Community aqueducts should promote in their communities to boil water before consumption, to try to store water in clean containers.
  • 6. Create campaigns for home water treatment and ensure that everyone has water in their homes.

Health education to prevent the virus

ASIR-SABA recognizes community work as a fundamental nucleus for promoting collective care strategies and that is why, thanks to the health education strategy, rural communities recognize some alternatives for preventing this virus.

It is important to call on them to continue to do so with government support, given their great needs. Hence, it is important to emphasize the following precautions:

  • 1. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth at all times and after taking out the garbage from your home, as it collects infectious waste.
  • 2. For municipalities that only have dumps, an area must be located, a hole must be opened, and the area must be arranged for garbage disposal. Remember: they should not be burned, only covered with earth.
  • 3. Monitor this process for your community's health care.

Water: a finite resource for community hygiene

According to the World Health Organization, water, sanitation and hygiene practices to prevent IDOC-19 must be strict and forceful, as they work as a protection mechanism to reduce the levels of infection of this virus. Because of this, it is important to consider the following measures and they should be taken into account by all people:

1.- Wash your hands with soap and water every three hours. Likewise after entering and leaving the house, preparing food, eating, touching pets, sneezing, coughing, touching objects exposed to the surface and being in crowded places (churches, events, meetings, etc.), although the latter should be avoided.

2.- Given the dynamics of the territories where rural communities live, it is recommended to use 5% sodium hypochlorite, 2 drops per liter of water, mix well and wait 30 minutes; after this time you can consume and use this disinfected water.

If there is a possible case of COVID-19 in your home or someone has predominant flu symptoms, constantly clean all areas of the home with chlorinated water.

4.- Don't forget to use a mask, gloves and an apron. This will prevent the areas of your body from being exposed to possible contagion.

Following all the recommendations contributes to the reduction of cases of contagion in our territories, to the care of your health and that of your community. While it contributes to mitigate and control the virus so that we all return to our daily activities.

ASIR-SABA Colombia Project, together against COVID-19