COVID-19 water sector responses in Europe: A scoping review of preliminary governmental interventions

H.A. Sarpong, David Getty, Suzanne Linnane, Alec Rolston

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


The unprecedented scale and impact of COVID-19 pandemic, and the accompanying lockdown implemented across many countries, has exacerbated water scarcity and security globally. Many European governments have introduced policy interventions to mitigate and protect their economies. Yet, water resources, which are a potential enabler in revitalising Europe's economy, have received few of such policy interventions since the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak as a public health emergency only in January 2020. Our scoping review of preliminary government responses of 27 European countries revealed that only 11 (40.7%) of these countries implemented at least one policy intervention that considered the water sector. These interventions were typically short-term measures involving either full cost absorption or deferment of water bills. Much attention on water governance and management processes, policies and financial investments required to augment the resilience of the water sector amid a growing scarcity of freshwater, triggered by extreme climate variation and also by COVID-19 pandemic should therefore be central to post COVID-19 recovery efforts in Europe. This paper also proposes future research directions, including a study that will harmonise water demand and consumption trends during the pandemic in Europe and an assessment on how the water sector can withstand possible external shocks in future.
Original languageEnglish
Article number143068
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


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