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    Review of 'COVID-19 and Informal Settlements - Implications for Water, Sanitation and Health in India and Indonesia'

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    COVID-19 and Informal Settlements - Implications for Water, Sanitation and Health in India and IndonesiaCrossref
    The paper is an excellent contribution and is very timely and is recommended for publication
    Average rating:
        Rated 4 of 5.
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        Rated 5 of 5.
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        Rated 4 of 5.
    Level of completeness:
        Rated 3 of 5.
    Level of comprehensibility:
        Rated 4 of 5.
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    Reviewed article

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    COVID-19 and Informal Settlements - Implications for Water, Sanitation and Health in India and Indonesia

     priti parikh (corresponding) ,  Yasmin Bou Karim,  Jacob Paulose (2020)
    Informal settlements are home to over one 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 transmission of COVID-19 in informal settlements in India and Indonesia. In the short term, there is an urgent need for mobile 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 appropriated for high-density settings to integrate those settlements into the city, improve environmental conditions and health in cities.
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      Review information

      10.14293/S2199-1006.1.SOR-ENG.AI0FZT.v1.RNOHLW

      This work has been published open access under Creative Commons Attribution License CC BY 4.0, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Conditions, terms of use and publishing policy can be found at www.scienceopen.com.

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      Review text

      1. The paper is an excellent contribution and is very timely and is recommended for publication
      2. The abstract could be strengthened by including some data from the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme on current coverage of water supply, sanitation and hygiene in India and Indonesia using the SDG 6.1 and SDG 6.2 indicators,
      3. The introduction could also introduce some data or references to water supply coverage and microbial water quality. Earlier studies of Water Quality in India during the MDG period questioned the use of some of the Government access indicators https://www.researchgate.net/publication/225293967_Global_Access_to_Safe_Water_Accounting_for_Water_Quality_and_the_Resulting_Impact_on_MDG_Progress
      4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20635198/
      5. The interventions for COVID-19 response could also consider some of the engineering considerations for designing non contact handwashing stations to avoid hand contact. Are there any examples in this study?
      6. COVID-19 also requires increased volumes of water in specific zones of cities (including increased domestic needs in peri urban and low income slums). The paper should mention some demand data and also how increased domestic demand volumes were met and or how water quality is addressed?
      7. Affordability of services is a key component of the SDG indicator – the paper would be strengthened by including some specific data on how services are being made more affordable in India and Indonesia.

      Comments

      Thank you for your feedback. We have accepted all comments and include our detailed response below:

       

      The paper is an excellent contribution and is very timely and is recommended for publication

      Response: We are delighted to hear this.

       

       The abstract could be strengthened by including some data from the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme on current coverage of water supply, sanitation and hygiene in India and Indonesia using the SDG 6.1 and SDG 6.2 indicators,

       

      Response: Given our emphasis on hand washing we have added in stats on handwashing facilities available in homes in both countries. See below:

      For example, in India at least 542 million and in Indonesia 94 million people do not have basic handwashing facilities with soap and water at home.

       

      The introduction could also introduce some data or references to water supply coverage and microbial water quality. Earlier studies of Water Quality in India during the MDG period questioned the use of some of the Government access indicators https://www.researchgate.net/publication/225293967_Global_Access_to_Safe_Water_Accounting_for_Water_Quality_and_the_Resulting_Impact_on_MDG_Progress

      https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20635198/

       

      Response: We now include discussion on water quality related challenges and your suggested references were helpful in framing those arguments. See below:

      “Adding to the complexity of potential infection transmission pathways during the pandemic is the quality of the water used for handwashing. At times, the definition of ‘safe water’ falls short and does not take into account crucial factors such as the quality of the water and risk of contamination, for example, in distribution pipes. Studies have shown that in the past coverage of safe water in India was grossly overestimated when water safety parameters were considered. This means that during the pandemic, the increased promotion and adherence to recommended handwashing practices in communities where the water supplied is at high risk of microbiological and/or other types of contamination might not have the desired public health effect.”

       

       

      The interventions for COVID-19 response could also consider some of the engineering considerations for designing non-contact handwashing stations to avoid hand contact. Are there any examples in this study?

      Response: This is a good point as it is not just about providing hand washing stations but also looking at engineering solutions. We note that WHO and UNICEF have published interim guidance which recommends design measures such as sensors, foot pedals for longer handles for turning taps on and off. Contactless soap dispensers and innovative means of safely storing soap is important. We also link to portable hand washing kits currently deployed by Oxfam in humanitarian settings.

       

      COVID-19 also requires increased volumes of water in specific zones of cities (including increased domestic needs in peri urban and low-income slums). The paper should mention some demand data and also how increased domestic demand volumes were met and or how water quality is addressed?

      Response: The crisis is ongoing so we do not have exact data on water current water consumption in those communities. But we now discuss the trade-offs between added water demand due to COVID-19 during summer and water scarcity and ground water extraction. Water tankers are often used to address this challenge and we now acknowledge in the paper that this is not a long-term solution.  In addition, the government of Indonesia provides water tanks across Indonesia (especially in public places) for hand washing purposes.

       

      Affordability of services is a key component of the SDG indicator – the paper would be strengthened by including some specific data on how services are being made more affordable in India and Indonesia.

      Response: Water tankers have been used to augment the water supply challenges. See the addition to the paper below:

      “Whilst water tankers are used to address this challenge in the short-term, in the longer-term measures to augment water resources and supply will be required. Purchasing water from tankers is only viable for those residents who can afford to pay for those services. Residents in our study settlements in India pay for water tankers whilst in Indonesia; the government reduced the price of clean water for communities during the pandemic.”

      2020-06-18 08:47 UTC
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