Today on World Water Day, WaterAid releases a new report: “Turn the tide: The state of the world’s water 2021”, which shows how people are losing access to clean water as longer droughts dry up springs, seawater infiltrates groundwater supplies and landslides take out water pumps.
The report highlights that investing in water systems that provide a reliable supply whatever the weather, is a frontline defence against the impact of climate change.
Without a reliable source of drinking water close at hand, day-to-day life is a challenge. Climate impacted communities are forced to depend on dirty water that makes them sick or walk long distances for clean water.
Time spent fetching clean water, recovering from illness or caring for those who are sick, is time that could be spent learning and earning a living. For the girls and women tasked with fetching water, having to walk further to find a clean water source takes time away from their education and disproportionately impacts their lives.
The 2.2 billion people who do not have a reliable and safe supply of water, are without the most fundamental protection against climate change which increases the unpredictability of weather patterns, resulting in extreme natural disasters. It is through water that the immediate impact of the climate crisis is felt. More frequent and extreme flooding is polluting fragile water sources, and longer droughts are drying up springs and wells.
With no clean water to drink, cook or wash with, communities falter and people get sick – putting their lives, livelihoods and futures at risk. With our existing climate change scenario, it is predicted that by 2030, water scarcity in
some arid and semi-arid places will force between 24 million–700 million people to leave their homes.
Currently, around four billion people live in water-scarce areas, where the demand for water outstrips available supply at some points of the year.3 By 2050, it is predicted that the number will rise to around five billion.
Intense flooding caused by climate change makes it harder for people to find clean water.
Worldwide, around 1.5 billion people are directly exposed to the risk of extreme flooding – over a third are poor.5 Floods can deprive communities of clean water by damaging water infrastructure as well as contaminating water sources, leading to the spread of deadly diseases such as cholera.
As we face the growing impacts of climate change, urgent attention must be given to ensure that every community has a sustainable water source. Otherwise, in the near future, more and more time will be wasted searching for clean water by those who need time to attend school and build a prosperous future for their families.
The communities featured in this report are living on the frontline of the climate crisis. Unless urgent action is taken to both help protect vulnerable people against its growing impacts and reduce the carbon emissions that cause climate change, communities will lose their livelihoods and lives, as water scarcity and contamination takes hold. These communities have done the least to cause climate change but stand to lose the most.
Read the report: Turn the tide: The state of the world’s water 2021
Story Source: WaterAid International