Access to water, toilets and hygiene must be recognized as a critical adaptation tool for communities to be resilient to climate change.
The Issue Explained
In the countries where we work, the climate is often extreme and variable, which makes accessing safe water and sanitation particularly difficult.
Climate change will make existing challenges even greater, by increasing the likelihood of natural disasters and placing additional stress on resources. It will be the world’s poorest people who will suffer the most because they are least able to cope with and adapt to a changing environment.
Climate change will affect people most through water-related issues –– floods, droughts, unpredictable monsoons and lack of unpolluted, non-salty water. It could also affect the sustainability of existing water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services, and make it more difficult to reach new communities.
Access to safe water and somewhere to go to the toilet make people more resilient to climate change. For example, improved sanitation can help stop the spread of disease after a flood. Adequate WASH facilities also improve people’s health, education and economic stability.
Countries experience the effects of climate change differently, which means the technical solutions utilized to mitigate and adapt may be different. But there is a common thread every country is working toward: policy changes.
In December 2015 almost 200 countries agreed to reduce harmful greenhouse emissions and mitigate the effects of climate change (known as the Paris Climate Agreement). In order to implement the agreement countries are instituting new policies that will minimize their impact on the environment and help their communities become more resilient to the effects of climate change.
WaterAid is working with governments to ensure that climate change policies include universal access to water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) as a viable climate change adaptation measure. In addition to policy changes around country operations and activities, WaterAid is working to ensure that there is sufficient funding for WASH as adaptation projects.
Policies addressing climate change adaptation projects and financing for those projects are critical to protecting the poorest and most vulnerable communities WaterAid serves.