In the wake of the Coronavirus that is rapidly sweeping the world, it is imperative that we be vigilant about protecting our communities from the possibility of a widespread outbreak. Access to water and the ability to wash one’s hands is essential in the prevention of communicable diseases and infections. “Water is a medical and public health necessity. The fact that we have to wait to see the deleterious outcomes is backwards and antiprevention and anti-common sense and antiscience,” states Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, the pediatrician whose research helped uncover the Flint water crisis in a recent Bridge Magazine article.
The effects of a lack of clean water on public health are well-known and well-documented. However, the psychological impacts of water insecurity are not frequently discussed. In fact, the We the People of Detroit Community Research Collective recently published the first known study on the effects that water insecurity has on individuals and communities who don’t have access to clean, safe, affordable water. In a the study, led by Nadia Gaber, PhD, UCSF/UC Berkeley, find that water insecurity is directly linked to financial and psychological distress:
“Our models reveal a substantial, statistically significant effect of water insecurity on psychological distress. These results are robust to the inclusion of a number of socioeconomic and demographic controls. Additionally, financial stress in paying for water and sanitation produces significant distress, even independent of water supply status.”
As we continue to advocate for the access to clean, safe and affordable water for many who have are denied this essential human need, we must also continue to bring to light the detrimental circumstances that impact communities as disease spreads and psychological distress increases. We must continue to ask the right question and disseminate the information that empowers citizens to organize demand that policies are enacted to address the needs of all.
We the People of Detroit Community Research Collective (WPD CRC), is a collaboration between community activists, academics, researchers, and designers. Our research is produced with and for the citizens of Detroit and beyond. This research has been used in a wide range of settings, from community organizing to legal and legislative work. We hope that our work will be of further use to shed light on the inequities that exist within our communities as we work together to find solutions that bring justice to underserved communities across our nation and around the world.
To access the full CRC study, go here