WaterAid response to UK flooding

Support for people in the UK need not come at the expense of support for work that aims to lift some of the world’s poorest people out of poverty.


12 Feb 2014

WaterAid offers its deepest sympathies to all those who have been affected by the recent UK flooding.

Homes and businesses have been ruined and in some areas people are struggling to access safe drinking water and toilets. We have been particularly saddened to learn about the tragic loss of life.

We are pleased that the Government has committed to spend ‘whatever is necessary’ on immediate support for those affected by the floods.

Working with some of the world's poorest communities, for over three decades, we see firsthand the catastrophic impact that flooding has. For instance, we worked in the aftermath of the 2012 floods in Bangladesh that left 100 people dead and over quarter of a million people stranded.

Many countries in the developing world are hampered in their relief efforts when disaster strikes. They frequently do not have the necessary resources and infrastructure to cope.

While the focus now in the UK is rightly on the emergency response, action by governments across the world is also needed to deal with both the causes and effects of climate change. Without concerted international agreement and action it will be more difficult to deal with climate change over the longer term.

In response to climate change and extreme weather events, we are increasingly making our projects more resilient to extreme weather such as flooding; for example, by drilling deeper boreholes to access uncontaminated water sources and using raised platforms for water pumps.

Here in the UK, calls are being made to re-direct financing for international aid towards flood relief at home. We don't feel that it is an either-or situation. Simply put, support for people in the UK need not come at the expense of programmes that aim to lift some of the world’s poorest people out of poverty and strengthen their resilience to extreme weather events.

Global warming is already affecting many communities across the world and adding to their existing vulnerabilities. More, not less, work needs to be done to deal with the causes of climate change as well as better preparing communities to be more resilient to extreme weather events both in the UK and in the developing world.