Right now only one subject dominates national and world news, affecting every area of life around the globe. If you receive our monthly PrayerPoints communication, you will see that CED’s work is no exception to this.
Although the number of COVID 19 cases is currently relatively low in the countries in which we work, severe travel restrictions, school closures and other measures to reduce social contact are in place. It goes without saying that CED members will no longer be able to visit projects until the situation greatly improves and travel restrictions are lifted, but it is the local restrictions which will have a more immediate effect on project progress.
The benefits of basic hygiene
As you will know, the two main measures that we can take to prevent the spread of the disease are social distancing and thorough hand washing. After years of including hygiene education in all of our water supply projects, it is interesting to observe that even in this country we have had to be reminded of how to wash our hands properly. Hand washing is such a simple action and yet it can have an enormous effect. For example, Curtis and Cairncross (2003)1 estimated that handwashing with soap alone was able to prevent 0.5 – 1.4 million deaths from diarrhoea per year. It also causes a significant reduction in the number of incidences of acute respiratory infections and eye infections. With our natural focus on engineering solutions, its humbling to think that such a basic hygiene message can have an enormous positive effect.
If nothing else, the current pandemic should cause us to be thankful for things like clean running water, which we so easily take for granted, and spur us on in our efforts to help those for whom there is no such luxury.
A final thought
The vast majority of CED projects are in rural areas, where at least social distancing is possible. Spare a thought then for the estimated 1.2 billion people around the world who live in urban slums, packed close together in unsanitary conditions.
1Curtis, V and Cairncross, S. (2003): Effect of washing hands with soap on diarrhoea risk in the community: a systematic review. The Lancet infectious diseases, 3, 275-281.