The health emergency caused by COVID-19 has affected all countries in varying degrees. Considering that washing hands with soap and clean water is one of the most efficient ways of infection prevention, many countries have implemented a set of measures to mitigate the effects of the crisis in relation to water, sanitation, and hygiene services (WASH). Implementing these measures require political will at the highest level and the committed participation of stakeholders at all levels. The extent of this pandemic touches particularly the most vulnerable sections of the population which might already be suffering from the deprivation of these services. Achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 6.1 and 6.2 – universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all, and access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all – is now more important than ever.
In face of this situation, the WASH Governance Hub (WSGH) wants to trigger discussion about good practices and challenges based on the combined experience of the partners.
SIWI, with the support of UNICEF, has conducted a mapping of the COVID-19 response in the WASH sector for around 70 countries, to understand experiences and good practices by providing a summary of initiatives implemented worldwide.
Panellists have wide ranging experience in India in WASH sector. They will describe their experiences on how WASH has played a significant role in helping local governments and communities in dealing with the pandemic.
The panellists will also discuss how it is important to build resilience by strengthening local governments and communities to address such challenges in future.
Dinesh Mehta, CWAS-CRDF-CEPT
Dr. Dinesh Mehta is joint director for the Center for Water and Sanitation at CEPT University’s Research and Development Foundation. As Professor Emeritus at the University, he teaches urban finance and development planning. He was the Director of School of Planning at CEPT University in Ahmedabad during 1984-92, Director of the National Institute of Urban Affairs, New Delhi, India during 1992-1997 and head of Urban Management Programme at UN-HABITAT, Nairobi during 2000-2006. Dr. Mehta has a Ph.D. from University of Pennsylvania, a Masters in City and Regional Planning from Harvard University, and a Bachelor of Technology in Civil Engineering, from IIT Madras, India.
Global COVID WASH Response: Overview and Main Challenges
Alejandro Jiménez, SIWI Stockholm
Dr. Jiménez leads the Water and Sanitation department at the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), Sweden. He is also the Program Director for Content Development on Water governance for the organization. Alejandro leads the coordination of UNDP global programme, GoAL WASH, and directs the Accountability for Sustainability programme – a UNICEF partnership. He has over 15 years of experience working with water governance issues around the world. He has published several articles and book chapters, especially in regard to water and sanitation governance, WASH indicators, and the implementation of the human right to water and sanitation.
Sheela Patel, SPARC
Sheela Patel is the founder Director of the Society for Promotion of Area Resource Centres (SPARC), an NGO that has been working since 1984 to support community organizations of the urban poor in their efforts to access secure housing and basic amenities and seek their right to the city. She is widely recognized – nationally and internationally – for seeking urgent attention to the issues of urban poverty, housing and infrastructure onto the radar of governments, bilateral and international agencies, foundations and other organizations. SPARC has been working in alliance with two Community Based Organizations – National Slum Dwellers Federation (NSDF) and Mahila Milan (women’s collectives in slums) that are active in 70 cities in different states of India.
Marije Broekhuijsen, UNICEF India
Marije joined UNICEF India as a WASH specialist in April 2018 and supports the WASH Chief in the effective management of WASH programme in India. She has 11 years’ experience working in development and emergency settings in the areas of water, sanitation, hygiene (WASH), disaster risk reduction, climate change, and community engagement. She leads innovation in the WASH programme including PPPs, urban WASH and climate resilient WASH initiatives. Broekhuijsen holds an Advanced Master’s degree in Policy and Practice in International Development from Radboud University, Netherlands (2009) and a M.Sc. in International Development Studies from Wageningen University & Research, Netherlands (2007).
Sujoy Mojumdar, UNICEF India
Sujoy is a senior WASH specialist and the focal point on sanitation at UNICEF, India office.He is involved in coordinating the UNICEF assistance to the Swachh Bharat Mission at the central and across 16 states of the country. He has supported the development of the national 10 year rural sanitation strategy released this year. He is currently working on ODF Sustainability, beyond ODF interventions (ODF+) and the water supply programme with specific focus on capacity building of PRIs and monitoring of WASH coverage in rural areas. He is part of a major UNICEF response to the Covid Pandemic.
Meera Mehta, CWAS-CRDF-CEPT
Dr. Meera Mehta is Executive Director for the Center for Water and Sanitation at CEPT University’s Research and Development Foundation (CRDF). She is Professor Emeritus at CEPT University and has 30 years of experience in water, urban development and infrastructure finance. She worked on USAID's FIRE Project in India (1994-1999) and later the World Bank in India and its Water and Sanitation Program in Africa (2000-2006). She studied Architecture at under-graduate level and city and regional planning at post-graduate level. She has a doctoral degree in economics.
Depinder Kapur, NIUA
Depinder Kapur is a senior development and WASH expert, leading the Sanitation Capacity Building Platform(SCBP) at the National Institute of Urban Affairs(NIUA) in New Delhi. He has worked in leadership positions with national and international development organizations and also with the Government and civil society grassroot initiatives in the areas of programs, strategy development, research, evaluations and capacity building.