“Global temperature breach would be devastating news for the world’s poor”

17 May 2023
Close up of Leticia's feet on dry earth in Puloichon, La Sabana, Colombia. January 2021
Image: WaterAid/ Keoma Zec

The release of the UN report into the expected breach of global temperature threshold of 1.5 degrees in the next five years shows that a tipping point is nearer than we originally thought. Inevitably, reliable water sources will become harder to find, particularly in areas most impacted by these rising temperatures, as well as areas experiencing floods and droughts. 

WaterAid believes that this makes the need for investment in locally-led climate adaptation projects even more urgent. Key to this is the need to act swiftly and decisively to ensure that vulnerable communities have immediate access to Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) to ensure lives and livelihoods are not lost and destroyed. 

Tim Wainwright, Chief Executive of WaterAid in the UK, said:  

“This research from the World Meteorological Organisation is devastating news for the world’s poorest. We’re urging the UK government to invest one third of its international climate finance budget in locally-led adaptation projects that will bring a year-round supply of clean water to those most in need – and to persuade other governments to make similar commitments. With clean water and decent toilets, people living with the impacts of climate change will be able to stay healthy, go to work or school, and take control of their futures – whatever the weather. Clean water is hope.“ 


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Nick Ericsson, News Manager, [email protected] or call our after-hours press line on +44 (0)7887 521 552, or email [email protected].

Notes to Editors: 

WaterAid is working to make clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene normal for everyone, everywhere within a generation. The international not-for-profit organisation works in 27 countries to change the lives of the poorest and most marginalised people. Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 28 million people with clean water and 29 million people with decent toilets. 

For more information, visit our website wateraid.org/uk, follow us on Twitter @WaterAidPress, @WaterAidUK, @WaterAid, or find us on Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram

  • 771 million people in the world – one in ten – do not have clean water close to home. 
  • Almost 1.7 billion people in the world – more than one in five – do not have a decent toilet of their own. 
  • Over 300,000 children under five die every year from diarrhoeal diseases caused by poor water and sanitation. That's more than 800 children a day, or one child every two minutes. 
  • Investing in safely managed water, sanitation and hygiene services provides up to 21 times more value than it costs. 

[1] WHO/UNICEF (2021) Progress on household drinking water, sanitation and hygiene 2000-2020. Joint Monitoring Programme. Geneva: World Health Organisation. 

[2] WHO/UNICEF (2021) Progress on household drinking water, sanitation and hygiene 2000-2020. Joint Monitoring Programme. Geneva: World Health Organisation. 

[3] WaterAid calculations based on: Prüss-Ustün A, et al. (2019). Burden of Disease from Inadequate Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Selected Adverse Health Outcomes: An Updated Analysis with a Focus on Low- and Middle-Income Countries. International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health. vol 222, no 5, pp 765-777. AND The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (2020) Global Burden of Disease Study 2019. Seattle, WA: University of Washington. 

[4] WaterAid. (2021) Mission-critical: Invest in water, sanitation and hygiene for a healthy and green economic recovery.