Kathmandu, 18 April:- Experts involved in the areas of water, sanitation and hygiene have called for augmenting the use of technology during the lockdown period in order to mitigate risks resulting from COVID-19.

At a video conference organized by Smart WASH Solutions Pvt Ltd, the thematic experts said the concerned authorities should place emphasis on the use of technology to keep the delivery of pure drinking water service smooth since it is associated to the people’s right to life and is also statutorily guaranteed.

There was no adequate supply of water in the crisis time in absence of able leadership in the sector, they added. On the occasion, former vice-chair of the Asian Development Bank and adviser to Asia Water Council Dr Bindunath Lohani said the leadership of this sector is deemed to be successful only following an environment is created when all people get adequate access to water.

Conflicts are emerging across the globe due to water woes and resolve of water crisis would bring peace, he said, adding the leadership providing solutions to the problem would be credited for peace building. The emerging crisis of coronavirus infection would inspire the government to come up with relief and recovery programmes and such would help change the norms in hand washing, health, sanitation and hygiene.

Mangesh Lal Shrestha, who is involved in promoting technology in drinking water, said the pandemic would result in opportunities in the development and up-scaling of technology. Drinking water expert Dr Dinesh Manandhar also said the crisis has brought out opportunities in augmenting the use of information, communication and technology in the WASH sector.

He mentioned that it was necessary to adopt smart technology in producing, processing and distributing drinking water as well as paying charge. Manandhar said the policy makers and three-tier of government should lay emphasis on processing of used water and water coming out from industries as well as well managing garbage emanating from cities and hospitals. Similarly, former secretary engineer Kishor Thapa said the crisis has compelled all levels governments to think about availability, supply and quality of drinking water.

He said, ”All local levels are under pressure to adequately provide water along with the dissemination of public message for hand wash. Minimum quality should have been maintained in the water being produced and distributed by government agencies, the bodies concerned should also pay attention about the quality of water being produced and distributed by private sector as well as well and tube-well water”.

The participants suggested developing technology to wash hand with little water and create awareness among general people about water-borne diseases. Chairperson of National Policy Foundation Dr Bishnuraj Upreti said special attention should be paid on drinking water, health and education which are constitutionally enshrined as fundamental rights of the citizens. State assembly member duo Shiva Chandra Chaudhary and Ramesh Poudel, media persons Prakash Adhikari and Deepak Acharya as well as experts and practitioners of WASH had participated in the video conference.

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