Some of the most climate-vulnerable countries receive as little as £1 per person a year to help them tackle climate change: new analysis

Posted by
Emily Pritchard
on
5 March 2020
In
Climate change
WaterAid/ Tom Greenwood

Only a tiny proportion of climate finance is reaching the most vulnerable countries or being spent addressing the most urgent impacts, according to new analysis released by WaterAid today. 

Read the full report: Short-changed on climate change: Money, water and people on the frontline.

  • Half of all countries receive less than £4 per head, per year in climate finance for both climate mitigation and adaptation.
  • Sudan – ranked 7th most vulnerable - receives only around £1 per head, per year in total climate finance for both mitigation and adaptation. 
  • Having a reliable water supply is a vital defence against the immediate and future impact of climate change, but two billion people do not have a water service that can withstand the impacts of climate change.
  • Half of countries where more than 10% of people do not have water close to home get less than 77p per head, per year in climate finance for water service adaptation. 
  • The ten countries with the lowest number of people with access to water close to home get on average 65p per person, per year in climate finance for water service adaptation.

In its new report, ‘Short-changed on climate change’, WaterAid analysed publicly available data on climate finance, state of water access and climate vulnerability. It found that half of all countries receive less than £4 per head, per year in climate finance for both climate mitigation and adaptation. Some of the most vulnerable countries receive significantly less than this.  Low levels of climate finance that is also not targeted at the countries most in need is failing to effectively help them deal with the impacts of climate change and is placing billions of lives at risk.   

Sudan, which is the country ranked the 7th most vulnerable to the impact of climate change according to the Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index, receives only around £1 per head, per year in total climate finance for both mitigation and adaptation. This is about two-thirds of the average daily gas bill in the UK. On average each person in Sudan is responsible for the emission of 0.3 metric tonnes CO2 emissions – nearly 22 times less than the UK average. Uganda, ranked 15th most vulnerable, receives just £4.10 per head, per year. 

WaterAid’s analysis found that half of countries where more than 10% of people do not have water close to home get less than 77p per head, per year in climate finance for water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) service adaptation. The ten countries with the lowest number of people with access to water close to home get on average 65p per person, per year in climate finance for water service adaptation – and Madagascar, where nearly half the population do not have water close to home, gets just 13p per person, per year. It costs around this to drive an average family car for 1.25 miles in the UK.  

WaterAid is calling for a rapid ten-fold increase in the amount of climate finance spent on getting clean water to those currently forced to live without, increasing their ability to cope with climate impacts.

For the poorest people, the most immediate and widespread impacts of climate change are felt through water – extreme droughts, sea level rises, vast floods and powerful storms. Access to clean water is uniquely vulnerable as climate change piles more pressure on already overstretched water-sources. It is those who have done least to contribute to global warming that are carrying the greatest burden of climate change – most often through droughts and flooding.

Access to clean water is a first line defence against climate change, but the most climate-vulnerable countries have some of the lowest levels of clean water access in the world. Around 800 million people still live without even a village water-pump or covered-well close to home.  Two billion people live without a water service that is reliable and safe from contamination, putting them at risk of water-borne disease and death. 

Failure to adapt to the impacts of climate change could see the number of people who lack access to sufficient water at least one month per year soar from 3.6 billion today to more than 5 billion by 2050 – over half of the predicted population.  That’s about one person every second being forced into water scarcity between now and 2050.

Although improving access to water is typically seen as a development issue and funded via Official Development Assistance, changing climate will push the cost of delivering interventions that can withstand the impacts higher. 

Next week, HRH The Prince of Wales will be in attendance at the WaterAid Water and Climate Summit.  It will bring together leaders from government, business and multilateral institutions to debate and drive action on the urgent and overlooked issue of how the climate crisis is affecting the water that people need to survive in a warming world.  

Tim Wainwright, WaterAid’s Chief Executive, said:

“Billions of people around the world are already living with the impact of the climate crisis, whether through flooding in the UK, bushfires in the States and Australia or sea level rises in coastal areas. But most of the suffering brought about by climate change does not make the headlines – it is poor and vulnerable communities, who have done virtually nothing to create this situation, finding it harder and harder each year to find enough clean water to live.

“Our report found that half of the 20 most vulnerable countries get less than £6.50 per person every year in climate finance to help them cope with climate change. The figures for how much of this gets spent on water are much lower. No-one can survive without clean water and no-one can thrive if they have to struggle to find it. Making sure that everyone, wherever they live, is able to rely on a safe supply of water no matter what the weather brings is one of the best investments you can make to help people cope with climate change. 

“We can expect more extreme weather events, more uncertainty and likely more people forced to live without safe water. We cannot just allow lives and livelihoods to be lost through inaction.” 

ENDS

For more information, please contact:
Emily Pritchard, Global News Manager, [email protected].
Or call our after-hours press line on +44 (0)7887 521 552 or email [email protected]

Read the full report: Short-changed on climate change: Money, water and people on the frontline.

 

WaterAid

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 28 countries to change the lives of the poorest and most marginalised people. Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 26.4 million people with clean water and 26.3 million people with decent toilets. For more information, visit www.wateraid.org/uk, follow @WaterAid or @WaterAidPress on Twitter, or find WaterAid UK on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wateraid.

  • 785 million people in the world – one in ten – do not have clean water close to home.[1]
  • 2 billion people in the world – almost one in four – do not have a decent toilet of their own.[2]
  • Around 310,000 children under five die every year from diarrhoeal diseases caused by poor water and sanitation. That's almost 800 children a day, or one child every two minutes.[3]
  • Every £1 invested in water and toilets returns an average of £4 in increased productivity.[4]
  • Just £15 can provide one person with clean water.[5]

[1] WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) Progress on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene: 2017 update and SDG Baselines

[2] WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) Progress on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene: 2017 update and SDG Baselines

[3] Prüss-Ustün et al. (2014) and The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (2018)

[4] World Health organization (2012) Global costs and benefits of drinking-water supply and sanitation interventions to reach the MDG target and universal coverage

[5] www.wateraid.org