NEW DELHI — Dharam Singh Rajput can’t afford to buy hand sanitizer, which could help ward off transmission of the coronavirus in his community.
The Rajput family could opt for something more basic — soap and water — to achieve hand hygiene. But sometimes there is no clean running water in their neighborhood, which sits next to open sewage canals and mounds of garbage in the heart of New Delhi, India’s capital. “The kind of water we have access to has the potential to cause more diseases instead of warding off the virus if we use it to wash our hands,” Rajput said.
Experts say keeping hands clean is one of the easiest and best ways to prevent transmission of the new coronavirus, in addition to social distancing. But for India’s homeless and urban poor who live in thousands of slums across major cities and towns, maintaining good hygiene can be nearly impossible.
About 160 million — more than the population of Russia — of India’s 1.3 billion people don’t have access to clean water.