Coronavirus in Nile Basin: Dual Dangers of a Pandemic and Water Crisis

In Africa’s Nile River basin, where COVID-19 outbreaks are just beginning, much of the lower and middle basin live in areas of water scarcity and drought. A majority of communities region-wide also struggle with poor sanitation and low access to clean water. In many places, people live so close together that it is virtually impossible to apply “social distancing”—and staying at home may not be an option, if they depend on their daily work for survival.

How will already-vulnerable and water-scarce communities in Africa’s Nile Basin contain the pandemic while ensuring local economies do not collapse?

Within this six-month project using data, satellite imagery, and maps, we will support 30 journalists in our InfoNile network to produce data-driven stories that will shed light on areas that need critical support due to their underlying vulnerabilities, especially in water and sanitation. We will also highlight little-known innovations that are working in the region to help such communities survive and adapt. Journalists will work in pairs, with one newspaper or TV journalist working with a local radio journalist.

The Hydro Quagmire

As Nairobi deals with a water shortage amidst the pandemic, and water cartels illegally cut into pipes, how are slum dwellers accessing water that is so critical to fight the spread of infection?