COVID-19 Water Security Risk Index

The overarching objective of this project was to create an index that understands and prioritises water investments to reduce a country’s risk from COVID-19 impacts in the short, medium, and long term.

To do this, the team created a COVID-19 Water Security Risk Index, building upon the data collected for and the methods used in the ADB’s Asian Water Development Outlook approach. We defined COVID-19 risk as the risk of community wide impact caused by an outbreak of COVID-19, including elements of health, economics, and water security.

Research partners: The School of Medicine at Griffith University



Project Location:



Australian Water Partnership

Project Category:

Applied Research

The Index deliberately uses a COVID-19 risk framework that considers all key factors that have a bearing on a country’s overall risk from COVID-19, distinguishing those that influence a country’s ability to:

  1. Stay alert to pandemics in other countries
  2. Delay the ‘spark’ of the virus entering the country
  3. Contain the community transmission of the virus once it has penetrated its borders
  4. To treat those infected with the virus
  5. To mitigate outbreaks via immunity, and
  6. To recover from the COVID-19

It is within this broad contextual framework, that those factors related to water security in various ways are highlighted. This approach allows the most effective water-related interventions to be identified at any given ‘phase’ of the epidemic within a country and recognises that prevention is more cost-effective than treatment.

An analysis of the factors contributing to a country’s overall COVID-19 risk index allows the relative importance of those factors related to water security to be identified. In this way, the Index can highlight those water interventions that are likely to have the most impact on reducing the overall impact of a pandemic like COVID-19. Like any index, its value for prioritising investments is predicated on the availability and accuracy of metrics measuring the factors currently believed to be important for reflecting the impact of a pandemic such as COVID-19 at the country scale. Metrics were not available for some key factors known to be important, such as a country’s ability to measure levels of immunity within the community, so these could not be incorporated at this stage.


Please access the Index’s online interface here.

Download the dataset:

Download the report:

Download country summaries: 



This resource was funded by the Australian Government through the Australian Water Partnership and implemented by the International WaterCentre and the School of Medicine at Griffith University.

The views expressed in this publication are the author’s alone and are not necessarily the views of the Australian Government. The Australian Government neither endorses the views in this index, nor vouches for the accuracy or completeness of the information contained within. The Australian Government, its officers, employees, and agents, accept no liability for any loss, damage or expense arising out of, or in connection with, any reliance on any omissions or inaccuracies in the material contained in this index.

Photo credit: norimoto/Adobe Stock (Ngeruktabel Island, Palau)