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

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          Abstract

          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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          Author and article information

          Journal
          UCL Open: Environment Preprint
          UCL Press
          18 June 2020
          Affiliations
          [1 ] UCL, Engineering for International Development Centre, Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering
          [2 ] Aceso Global Health Consultants Limited
          [3 ] UCL, Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering
          [4 ] Department of Epidemiology, Columbia University
          [5 ] Indonesia One Health University Network
          [6 ] Aceso Global Health Consultants Limited, India
          [7 ] Population, Policy and Practice, UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health
          Article
          10.14324/111.444/000036.v2

          This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

          Funding
          Submission on behalf of Childhood Infections & Pollution (CHIP) Consortium N/A

          Data sharing not applicable to this article as no datasets were generated or analysed during the current study.

          Engineering

          Policy and law, WASH, Informal settlements, India, COVID-19, Indonesia, infection pathways, Water, The Environment

          Comments

          Date: 14/8/2020

          Handling Editor: Michael McClain

          The Handling Editor requested revisions; the article has been returned to the authors to make this revision.

          2020-09-23 15:30 UTC
          +1

          Date: 18/6/2020

          Handling Editor: Michael McClain

          The Article has been revised, this article remains a preprint article and peer-review has not been completed.

          2020-09-23 15:30 UTC
          +1

          1. Please include a description of the method/approach you applied to extend the results of your 2019 data collection from the two settlements into this identification of “the impact of COVID-19 on existing water and sanitation practices…”  You state only that you built on the 2019 pre-pandemic data “through consultations with in-country consortium members during the pandemic”. Were these “consultations” simply conversations? Was any systematic approach applied? Was the approach consistent between India and Indonesia? Was any published process followed to arrive at described “impacts of COVID-19”?

          Response: In addition to verbal discussions and existing expert knowledge from our in-country consortium members the co-authors Mr. Hemant Chaturvedi (India) and Dr. Dewi Nur Aisyah (Indonesia) directly contributed to the article. The in-country co-authors were emailed the following questions and they collated responses in the form of qualitative responses leveraging their in-country networks.   

          1. How do women collect water in slums (pre COVID and now in lockdown)
          2. What is the sanitation situation in slums (pre COVID and now)
          3. Any targeted WASH interventions in slums in COVID-19 period?
          4. Is there household water supply and toilets in our study slums?
          5. Are there any leakages in pipes?
          6. What type of sewage treatment options are there – none, pit latrines or other
          7. Is flooding a challenge?

          Responses to the above questions were reviewed and discussed by all the authors and then synthesized into our final article. We have clarified this point in our manuscript.

          2. In the text you state that “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.” However, the relevance of this different to the impacts of COVID-19 in the two settlements is not explained. For India, you indicate that purchasing water from vendors, regardless of the price, is not a long-term solution. What is the relevance then of the reduced price in Indonesia?

          Response: The implication was more short- term. COVID-19 requires frequent hand washing and improved hygiene practices increasing water consumption but without subsidies for water access communities face an added economic burden. So we were highlighting the added burden of COVID-19 especially in the settlements in India. The text has been modified to clarify this point.

          In the long-term we advocate for improved and safe water and sanitation services in settlements.

          3. Please also review the sentence “Women who use public toilets not only take the risk of enhanced exposure to COVID due to the toilets and associated surfaces being dirty and close physically proximity to other users.” By including “not only” in this sentence you suggest to the reader that something more than “the risk of enhanced exposure to COVID” will be described. Is there something more, or should “not only” simply be deleted?

          Response: Agreed and we have now deleted “not only” from that sentence.

           

          2020-08-17 15:46 UTC
          +1

          Thank you for your careful and complete job of responding to the reviewers' minor and largely complimentary comments.

          I have been asked to usher your manuscript through the final stage of the editorial process. For that I request a final set of minor revisions.

          1. Please include a description of the method/approach you applied to extend the results of your 2019 data collection from the two settlements into this identification of “the impact of COVID-19 on existing water and sanitation practices…”  You state only that you built on the 2019 pre-pandemic data “through consultations with in-country consortium members during the pandemic”. Were these “consultations” simply conversations? Was any systematic approach applied? Was the approach consistent for India and Indonesia? Was any published process followed to arrive at described “impacts of COVID-19”?

          2. In the text you state that “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.” However, the relevance of this different to the impacts of COVID-19 in the two settlements is not explained. For India, you indicate that purchasing water from vendors, with no reference to price, is not a long-term solution. What is the relevance then of the reduced price in Indonesia?

          3. Please also review the sentence “Women who use public toilets not only take the risk of enhanced exposure to COVID due to the toilets and associated surfaces being dirty and close physically proximity to other users.” By including “not only” in this sentence you suggest to the reader that something more than “the risk of enhanced exposure to COVID” will be described. Is there something more, or should “not only” simply be deleted?

          I look forward to receiving your revised manuscript.

          2020-08-14 16:30 UTC
          +1

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