WaterAid President HRH The Prince of Wales calls for action on the water and climate crisis

13 March 2020
HRH The Prince of Wales at the Water and Climate Summit, March 2020.

Water may not be the first thing you think of when you consider the climate emergency, but the climate crisis is a water crisis that threatens communities worldwide.

Across the globe, extreme floods pollute water supplies and destroy lives, while severe droughts leave entire regions parched.

Last week, WaterAid President His Royal Highness (HRH) The Prince of Wales met with key figures from global politics, business and philanthropy to discuss the impact of the climate crisis on access to clean water. He described 2020 as a vital year for bringing this issue into focus.

We’re facing too much or too little water

Temperatures are rising across the globe, which means the weather is becoming more extreme, and depending on where they live or the time of year, people are experiencing too much or too little water. An astounding 90% of all natural disasters are water-related, and they're playing havoc with people's lives.

“Water is utterly essential to all life on Earth, so protecting it is utterly critical to our survival,” said HRH The Prince of Wales at a WaterAid round table with political and business leaders this week.

“Inevitably, some people have too much of it and some people have too little. You end up with too little for a very long time and then you have too much, which makes life very complicated indeed.”

The people who’ve contributed least to climate change are suffering the most

In the countries where we work, people have been feeling the effects of extreme flooding and drought for years. It’s the world's poorest people who are being hit hardest by the effects of our changing climate.

(L-R) Jeimis Barliza, 10, Marian Maria, 12 and Kellys Montiel, 11, next to the jaguey where their families used to get water before it dried up, in Totcomana, Manaure, La Guajira, Colombia. March 2017.
WaterAid/ Jordi Ruiz Cirera
Jeimis, Marian and Kellys, next to the jaguey (man-made pool) where their families used to get water before it dried up, in Totcomana, Manaure, La Guajira, Colombia.

A reliable source of clean water is the first line of defence 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 work globally to help communities adapt and prepare for the impact of our changing climate by providing water services people can rely on. But our analysis shows that nowhere near enough government money is invested in helping people most vulnerable to climate change.

“There are wonderful examples out there all around the world, of small projects which really do provide an answer to many of these issues, but lack the investment,” said HRH.

“I visited this enormous slum in Kampala, twelve years ago or more. Having seen that I can understand the immense challenges and difficulties there are.”

Meet Christopher, a community activist in Kampala, Uganda

Christopher, 31, has lived in a slum in Kampala all his life. He is passionate about bringing positive change in his community and heads up an activist group to teach the locals about the importance of maintaining clean toilets to keep people healthy when floods and droughts happen.

Christopher Tumwine is a community activist in Kampala, Uganda. He teaches people about the importance of toilets to keep the community healthy when floods and droughts happen.

"We see the effects of climate change. We have longer droughts now. And erratic rains that destroy crops and flood homes.

"Floods fill sewers and overflow latrines, sending filthy water into people's homes, bringing disease.”

As the weather in Kampala becomes increasingly erratic, Christopher and his community need a more sustainable solution to maintain decent toilets in their local area, to protect their health, safety and dignity.

Christopher asked, "Do world leaders have the will to put words into action and protect communities like mine?"

World leaders need to scale up their efforts

We’re calling on governments to scale up their efforts to invest in climate adaptation, so communities like Christopher’s not only survive, but have the opportunity in life to thrive.

HRH added: “With climate change being the greatest threat humanity has ever faced quite literally, and with time rapidly running out, I can only encourage you to raise your level of ambition, to collaborate as much as you possibly can for solutions and scale… and act now.”