India

COVID-19 Response and WASH Lessons Learned in India

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Evaluation and Lessons Learned
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SUMMARY

• As of 5 October 2020, there have been 6.62 million positive cases, with 5.59 million recoveries, and 103,000 deaths across the country.

• UNICEF has supported various states in reaching an estimated 40 million beneficiaries with hygiene messages, WASH services, and supplies in partnership with government, NGOs, and the private sector (via corporate social responsibility initiatives) as of November 2020.

• As the COVID-19 response was led by the health sector, not all actors had expertise on handwashing and hygiene or consulted WASH agencies. It took time to include WASH agencies into the COVID-19 response. Given the health-led response by government, other line ministries took time to understand and take up their roles and responsibilities, requiring advocacy.

Context

The COVID-19 pandemic spread to India when its first case, in Kerala, was confirmed on 30 January 2020. As of 5 October 2020, there have been 6.62 million positive cases, with 5.59 million recoveries, and 103,000 deaths across the country. On 24 March 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a 21-day national lockdown to contain the pandemic which was further extended until the end of May, generating a massive urban to rural exodus with millions of migrants desperately trying to return home; thousands were seen walking or bicycling hundreds of kilometers to go back to their native villages.

UNICEF has supported various states in reaching an estimated 40 million beneficiaries with hygiene messages, WASH services, and supplies in partnership with government, NGOs, and the private sector (via corporate social responsibility initiatives) as of November 2020. UNICEF has, at the central-level and in states, provided technical support to the government in planning, capacity building, implementation of COVID-19 activities, behavior-change communications as well as the development/dissemination of protocols on safety practices.