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      COVID-19 and informal settlements – implications for water, sanitation and health in India and Indonesia

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          Informal settlements are home to over 1 billion people worldwide and are characterised by high population densities and poor environmental conditions. The authors identify the impact of COVID-19 on existing water and sanitation practices and potential pathways for the transmission of COVID-19 in informal settlements in India and Indonesia. In the short term, there is an urgent need for mobile and contactless hand washing, washing/bathing facilities and toilets. In the long term, COVID-19 provides an opportunity to invest in centralised water and sanitation networked solutions appropriate for high-density settings to integrate those settlements into cities and improve environmental conditions and health in these cities.

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          Most cited references 7

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          Global Access to Safe Water: Accounting for Water Quality and the Resulting Impact on MDG Progress

          Monitoring of progress towards the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) drinking water target relies on classification of water sources as “improved” or “unimproved” as an indicator for water safety. We adjust the current Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) estimate by accounting for microbial water quality and sanitary risk using the only-nationally representative water quality data currently available, that from the WHO and UNICEF “Rapid Assessment of Drinking Water Quality”. A principal components analysis (PCA) of national environmental and development indicators was used to create models that predicted, for most countries, the proportions of piped and of other-improved water supplies that are faecally contaminated; and of these sources, the proportions that lack basic sanitary protection against contamination. We estimate that 1.8 billion people (28% of the global population) used unsafe water in 2010. The 2010 JMP estimate is that 783 million people (11%) use unimproved sources. Our estimates revise the 1990 baseline from 23% to 37%, and the target from 12% to 18%, resulting in a shortfall of 10% of the global population towards the MDG target in 2010. In contrast, using the indicator “use of an improved source” suggests that the MDG target for drinking-water has already been achieved. We estimate that an additional 1.2 billion (18%) use water from sources or systems with significant sanitary risks. While our estimate is imprecise, the magnitude of the estimate and the health and development implications suggest that greater attention is needed to better understand and manage drinking water safety.
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            How safe are the global water coverage figures? Case study from Madhya Pradesh, India.

            The World Health Organization (WHO)/United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) for Water Supply and Sanitation was designed to provide reference figures for access in individual countries to safe water. The JMP is based on non-administrative or nongovernment data from national-level surveys such as the Multiple Indicator Clusters Survey (MICS) or Demographic Health Survey. In the 2007 JMP report, India is noted to have water supply coverage of 89% (95% in urban areas and 85% in rural areas) compared to the Government of India estimates of 95%. The central state of Madhya Pradesh is noted by the Government of India to have coverage of 60%. However, the definition of access to safe water currently does not consider the quality or safety of the water being consumed. This paper, therefore, presents results from the application of a statistical tool (random multiple cluster technique-termed Rapid Assessment of Drinking Water Quality [RADWQ]) to Indore Zone in Madhya Pradesh. When results provided by the RADWQ technique are compared to the JMP MICS data, coverage levels reported in the JMP are reduced by up to 40% due to the high risk of microbiological (thermotolerant coliforms) contamination. In Indore Zone, the coverage of safe water reduced from 42% to 25% through the inclusion of the water safety parameters. The study recommends the inclusion of water quality/safety data in reported data under the UNICEF/WHO JMP.
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              The role of infrastructure in improving human settlements


                Author and article information

                UCL Open Environment
                UCL Press (UK )
                07 September 2020
                September 2020
                : 1
                : 1-5
                1University College London, Engineering for International Development Centre, Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering, 2 Taviton Street, London WC1H 0BT, UK
                2Aceso Global Health Consultants Ltd, London, UK
                3University College London, Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering, London, UK
                4Department of Epidemiology, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA
                5Indonesia One Health University Network, Jakarta, Indonesia
                6UCL Institute of Epidemiology & Healthcare, London, UK
                7Population, Policy and Practice, University College London, Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, London, UK
                Author notes
                Corresponding author: Email: priti.parikh@
                Copyright © 2020 The Authors.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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