Water had not had nearly enough attention at the climate conference COP26 in Glasgow, with urgent action needed, says charity WaterAid. It claims that a global water crisis is being ignored to the detriment of billions of people’s lives.
“The way that climate change affects human beings is almost entirely through water, either too much or too little,” said Tim Wainwright, chief executive of WaterAid. “So why aren’t we talking about water all the time? We need the kind of action on water that we have already happening on the energy transition.”
Wainwright believes this is the first COP where people are beginning to sit up and take notice. However, he says more needs to be done, a lot of action is needed and it’s urgent. Highlighting a 2016 study, Wainwright said the climate crisis is a water crisis at its core. The study stated that two-thirds of the global population, four billion people, faced water shortages and many were at increased risk of floods and droughts brought on by the climate crisis.
Rainfall patterns have changed in many parts of the world; more intense and more frequent floods pollute water sources and destroy crops or homes, while longer and more frequent droughts dry up the springs many people need to survive. Very little action is being taken to help the affected communities.
WaterAid stated that water is fundamental to life. It underlines health and one’s ability to have an education. Wainwright pointed out that it was the poorest people in countries that had contributed the least to the climate crisis who were suffering the most and as such, investment in managing water supply should be focused in these areas. “We need a revolution that takes us to zero carbon and we need a revolution that takes us to adapting the world to cope with the climate change that is irreversible.”
WaterAid is calling on world leaders to meet their $100 billion climate pledge sooner than the delayed 2023 date, in order to provide solutions. As global temperatures rise, women in water-stressed countries are having to make longer journeys to access safe water. According to WHO estimates, 50 litres of water are needed per person per day to meet basic drinking, cooking and washing needs. WaterAid calculates that a woman in this position with a family of four spends five hours a day just fetching water.