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Climate change and WaterAid briefing note

Climate change and WaterAid briefing noteBy its very nature, our climate is highly variable. The people and communities WaterAid works with are very exposed and vulnerable to changes in rainfall and extreme weather. Human-induced climate change will make these existing challenges harder by changing established patterns and the likelihood of extreme events.

It is not possible to directly attribute a particular event to climate change, so we cannot yet link climate change with absolute certainty to specific disasters and impacts in the countries where WaterAid works (emerging science may update this, see below).

However, it is clear that our work is affected by climatic variability and environmental issues, regardless of whether caused by human-climate change or within existing patterns – the floods in West Africa in 2012 (which led to cholera outbreaks), the drought in the Horn of Africa in 2011 and groundwater salinity in South Asia are just a few examples. These sorts of events have a disproportionately large impact on poorer communities, and they also struggle most to recover, which can set back development by decades.

Therefore, it is more important that we build resilience to these events, regardless of whether the cause is attributable to anthropogenic climate change or existing climatic variability.

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