In April 2020, SVG Green Party called for the government to introduce standpipes throughout the country to help people in poorer households reduce their chances of catching coronavirus, and passing it on to the rest of their family.

CWSA statistics showed that during the period of 2006 to 2010, the average number of household water disconnections per month was 360. Over this 5-year period, this means that about 21,600 households were disconnected from the mains water supply. If the average household is 3 people, then the number of people cut off from the piped water supply over this 5-year period was about 64,800 people.

Now that we have had the volcano eruption, the need for standpipes and access to free, fresh drinking water for everyone is even more crucial.

Volcanic ash/dust is everywhere. Every gust of wind and every passing vehicle whip up clouds of dust that drift on to and into people’s houses. We know that a large number hundreds) of households in SVG do not have piped water and for these houses, it is very hard for them to keep their houses clean without an adequate supply of water.

The lack of water in poorer households is a significant health crisis in the making. People in poorer households are more likely to be inhaling volcanic ash/dust if they do not have water and are unable to clean their homes well. Also, if they lack access to fresh water they are less likely to be able to wash their food adequately, and will end up ingesting some volcanic ash dust in their food.

The ULP regime must show empathy and kindness for the people of SVG – show some common sense – and urgently reintroduce fresh drinking water standpipes throughout the country in order to save lives and avert a health crisis.

According to the Leader of SVG Green Party, Warrant Officer Ivan Bertie O’Neal BSc (Hons) MSc, MBA, our people are suffering a double crisis in SVG with coronavirus and volcanic ash dust everywhere.

Personal hygiene especially keeping one’s hands clean are crucial in reducing the death toll in SVG from the coronavirus. Poverty is rife in SVG and poorer households need help to protect themselves properly. Keeping households clean and having the ability to wash food properly in clean water are also crucial in reducing the death toll and level of illness in SVG caused by the volcanic ash dust.

It is inhumane not to have standpipes and provide free, clean drinking water for poor people and poorer households, whilst maintaining hundreds of millions and dollars of tax and customs duty exemptions for Taiwan and the super-rich of Mustique and Canouan.

It was equivalent to a crime against humanity when the standpipes were removed; they were used extensively by poor people to get safe drinking water and sustain their life.

Standpipes had been used in SVG for over 50 years and it was utter economic madness to have killed the standpipes, because forced thousands of poor people to use unclean water and expose themselves to the risk of illnesses and then be unable to work.

We very urgently need to bring back standpipes with free, fresh drinking water to provide all of our people with good health and dignity. Poorer households need access to free, clean drinking water immediately.

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