Queen’s University Researcher dives into the connection between access to water and COVID-19

November 6th 2020 A group of researchers from more than 20 countries, including David McDonald, Professor of Global Studies at Queen’s University, have written a new e-book on the significance of safe, accessible and affordable water for all during COVID-19.  Public Water and Covid-19: Dark Clouds and Silver Linings explores why public water matters during a pandemic and presents the latest research on the impact of COVID-19 on public water operators. 

Written by academics, activists, practitioners, unionists, NGOs and community members, the new e-book provides a global overview of the challenges cast by COVID-19 on the public water sector, showcasing how public water operators are grappling with the financial hardship and the ongoing pressures of privatization. 

COVID-19 has also shown how public water operators can deal effectively and fairly with the pandemic in the short-term, with progressive practices that open up possibilities for improved democratization and equity-oriented services in the future.

The ebook is also a part of  McDonald’s Municipal Services Project based at Queen’s, and will launch November 9th.

McDonald states that he has "been conducting research on the negative impacts of water privatization for over two decades. More recently my focus has shifted to questions of what constitutes a good ‘public’ water operator."  He noted that he and his colleagues worldwide have "looked critically at different public water models and asked what makes them democratic, accountable and equitable." 

In McDonald's view, "there is no one-size-fits-all model, but there are common characteristics that contribute to effective public water services. Nowhere is this topic more urgent than with Covid-19, with access to water for handwashing being a critical part of combatting the disease."

With this in mind, McDonald explains that the aim of this ‘rapid response’ book is thus to investigate how public water operators have responded to the crisis in different contexts and what lessons have been learned. "We do not shy away from the mistakes public water operators have made," McDonald says, "but our main goal is to contribute to knowledge sharing on ‘good practices’ in an effort to help contribute to improved public water services for all.” 

The e-Book Public Water and Covid 19 is free and available here