Water has many values that are just not priced, Sasha Koo-Oshima, the Deputy Director, Land and Water Division, UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), told Xinhua ahead of the World Water Day on March 29.

The official highlighted that with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, a large part of the world population still lacks access to handwashing facilities at home.

“This is the first line of defence against this virus and the value of water is very evident in this progression.

“The first thing we realised is handwashing. Many countries just don’t have clean water to even just wash hands,” she said.

The UN on Monday warned that more than two billion people do not have direct access to water, the “blue gold” which is essential in defeating the pandemic.

In its World Water Development Report 2021, which focuses on the value of water, the UN stressed the urgent need to protect water.

“That brings in this issue of underinvestment and water sanitation and the services for billions of people, it has become abundantly clear since the start of the pandemic,’’ Koo-Oshima said.

While global water supply had become more severe in recent years, threatening agricultural production, food security and also water quality, Koo-Oshima said that countries like China could play a leading role in tackling the issue of water scarcity.

“China has very arid and semi-arid regions, especially in the western part of the country.

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“They have done great work in greening some of these arid areas and bringing in some of the nature-based solutions and the Chinese have been very effective in that,” she said.

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