WaterAid and celebrities call on the Government to prioritise clean water for people living with the effects of climate change

on
3 November 2022
WaterAid representatives Timothy Ingram and MP Fleur Anderson stand outside 10 Downing Street holding a box containing a selection of climate messages from the UK public to the Prime Minister as part of a petition hand in to demand urgent action from  ...
Image: WaterAid/ Oliver Dixon

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WaterAid led the charge at 10 Downing Street today to present 25,000 climate messages from the UK public. The heartfelt messages, handed over by MP Fleur Anderson, urge the Government to act at COP27 to ensure everyone has clean water they can rely on to protect themselves against the impacts of extreme weather, wherever they live.  

The international charity also presented a giant postcard cheering on Rishi Sunak’s last-minute decision to attend the COP27 conference, showing images of Sharm El Sheikh, and including the phrase ‘Wish you were here’ with ‘wish’ crossed out. 

WaterAid representatives Timothy Ingram, Wanji Wambari-Kairu, Nick Chowdrey and Rachel Sewell stand outside 10 Downing Street holding a giant postcard addressed to the Prime Minister as part of a petition hand in to demand urgent action from the Gover ...
WaterAid representatives Timothy Ingram, Wanji Wambari-Kairu, Nick Chowdrey and Rachel Sewell stand outside 10 Downing Street holding a giant postcard addressed to the Prime Minister as part of a petition hand in to demand urgent action from the Gove
Image: WaterAid/ Oliver Dixon

This hand in coincides with the release by WaterAid of new research revealing the increased frequency and intensity of droughts across Africa over the last four decades.  

WaterAid collected the thousands of messages addressed to the Prime Minister on postcards at festivals throughout the summer, as well as digitally. The postcards included designs from music stars such as Ringo Starr, FOALS, The Waterboys, KT Tunstall, Wet Leg and Scouting for Girls, as well as legendary designer Dame Zandra Rhodes.  

As part of WaterAid’s Our Climate Fight campaign Brits have backed calls on the government to invest at least one third of their committed international climate budget in local projects that bring these essentials to the most vulnerable. 

Fashion designer Dame Zandra Rhodes, who designed a limited-edition postcard for the campaign, said: 

“The response from the UK public to WaterAid’s Climate Fight campaign shows that together our voices are powerful. Now the UK Government must stand up and take responsibility for the hand it has played in pushing the climate over the edge. The first step must be protecting those on the frontline and making their voices heard at COP27.”        

Known for his roles in Waterloo Road, ITV drama-comedy series Cold Feet, Netflix’s White Lines and the acclaimed BBC drama World on Fire, actor Cel Spellman said: 

“2022 has been one of the most catastrophic years when it comes to the impacts of Climate Change. We’ve seen floods, famine, droughts, fire & a loss of nature like we’ve never seen. What’s sadder is the world's most vulnerable people, those who have done the least to cause this, fall victim to these extreme climate events they did not cause. Investment in solutions, adaptation & aid is vital to help and support these communities and addressing the imbalance. That’s why I'm supporting WaterAid’s call on the government to step up to deliver on their promises at COP27.”   

Across the world, one in ten people do not have clean water while one in five lack a decent toilet. The climate crisis is making life harder for those already struggling to access these essentials, with extreme weather like floods and slow-onset events like rising sea levels destroying facilities and contaminating unprotected water sources, while droughts dry up springs and wells. 

A recent poll commissioned by WaterAid found that 2 in 3 people think climate change will have a ‘great deal’ or ‘fair amount’ of impact on access to safe and clean water (63%) in the coming 15 years. Over half (56%) of the UK population believe the UK’s foreign aid programme should prioritise providing access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene to help people adapt to the impacts of climate change.  

Tim Wainwright, Chief Executive of WaterAid, said:    

“Water, sanitation and hygiene are essential to live a happy and prosperous life. Yet for millions of people, access to safe and clean water is being eroded with extreme weather events – in Pakistan, in Bangladesh, in the Horn, people are feeling the wrath of the climate as we speak. One in ten people currently don’t have access to clean water and while that is already a shocking figure, it is likely only to get worse with increased incidences of floods, droughts, and rising sea levels.   

“That is why, with just a few days until COP27 in Egypt, we are asking for the UK Government to act now, so vulnerable communities on the frontline of the climate crisis have the basics they need to survive and thrive.”   

ENDS   
 
For more information, please contact:  

Rachel Sewell, PR Manager, [email protected]. Or call our after-hours press line on +44 (0)7887 521 552, or email [email protected].  

Notes to Editors:  

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 28 million people with clean water and nearly 29 million people with decent toilets. 

For more information, visit our website wateraid.org/uk, follow us on Twitter @WaterAidUK, @WaterAid or @WaterAidPress, 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[1]. 
  • Almost 1.7 billion people in the world – more than one in five – do not have a decent toilet of their own[2]. 
  • 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[3]. 
  • Investing in safely managed water, sanitation and hygiene services provides up to 21 times more value than it costs[4]. 

[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.