Our climate is changing at an alarming rate and we're feeling the effects more and more through extreme weather. 

What has climate change got to do with water?

Our climate is changing at an alarming rate and it’s making it even harder for the world’s poorest people to get clean water. More frequent and extreme flooding is polluting fragile water sources; longer droughts are drying up springs. People need a reliable supply of water that keeps pumping through flood, drought and natural disaster. Because with clean water, they can stay disease free, go to school, earn a living and be better prepared for whatever the future brings.

Climate change can seem abstract and overwhelming, but it’s real and it’s happening now. 

Did you know that 2020 was one of the hottest years on record? Only 2016 matched 2020's heat. Globally, temperatures are rising, which means that weather is becoming more extreme, resulting in either too much or too little water. In fact, a staggering 90% of all natural disasters are water-related, and they're massively impacting people's lives.

Before the spread of COVID-19, millions of people in developing communities were already struggling with a public health catastrophe. A shocking 1 in 10 people worldwide don't have clean water close to home, putting them under constant threat from waterborne diseases like cholera, which claims 120,000 lives every year. The more our climate changes, already fragile water supplies are at even greater risk of disappearing completely.

How is climate change affecting people?

When climate change causes prolonged droughts. That means people have to walk further to find water. Often the only water available is dirty, which makes people sick. Drought also means farmers’ crops are more likely to fail and cattle risk dying, so they have less produce to sell and families have less food to eat.

When extreme weather events cause flooding entire homes can be destroyed, water sources become unstable, and crops can be ruined. This impacts people’s livelihoods, their dignity, their safety, and their health.

A woman stands in brown water with a jerry can filled with water over her shoulder.
Image: WaterAid/ Joey Lawrence

Right now, more than 2 billion people lack access to a safely managed water supply.
 

An older woman squats with a younger man beside a small stream.
Image: WaterAid/ Tariq Hawari

Half of the world’s population could be living in areas facing water scarcity by as early as 2025.

A woman faces away from the camera, and walks toward a small open toilet structure on the banks of a lake.
Image: WaterAid/ DRIK/ Habibul Haque

Water-related disasters account for 70% of all deaths related to natural disasters.
 

In the foreground, A woman walks along a dusty, dirt road carrying four empty jerry cans. In the background you can see other woman walking ahead carrying jerry cans.
Image: WaterAid/ Ernest Randriarimalala

By 2040, roughly 1 in 4 children worldwide will be living in areas of extremely high water stress.

The world has made huge progress in giving everyone, everywhere the clean water that is their right. Yet climate change threatens to set us back decades and push more people into extreme poverty.

- Justine Sawadogo, 30, from the village of Bonam in Burkina Faso, pictured below.

We need action

Together, we need to defend the right to clean water for everyone, regardless of where they live, and to protect our future generations before it's too late. 

Meet people who have been affected by extreme weather
Image: WaterAid/ People's Postcode Lottery/ Basile Ouedraogo

Our Approach

We provide water services communities can rely on. A reliable source of clean water is the first line of defense against the impact of our changing climate on people’s lives and livelihoods. Together with supporters like you, we’ve been transforming millions of lives with clean water for decades.

We provide waterpoints and pipe networks that can withstand floods, so people continue to have clean and safe drinking water. And we help people monitor and manage their water supplies properly to meet their basic needs in times of drought. 

We work with governments and businesses for bigger change. We share our knowledge with governments and the private sector to change even more lives. We work with governments to make sure access to clean water is at the heart of their climate adaptation and development plans. 

But nowhere near enough government money is invested in helping people most vulnerable to climate change. Our research shows that in some of the poorest countries in the world, as little as $0.20 per person is spent each year on making water services climate resilient.

We're calling for an urgent tenfold increase in climate finance spent on getting sustainable, clean water to the people currently forced to live without, so they can cope with the effects of climate change.

Read more about our approach here: Our Approach

Water means life

Only by building climate-resilient water supplies and toilets, can the Munda people survive the relentless storms and floods caused by climate change.

Find out how you can help the people of Bhetkhali, Bangladesh
Image: WaterAid/Fabeha Monir