Around the world, we’re increasingly seeing clear evidence that our climate is changingâ¯at an alarming rate.â¯This year alone, we’ve already witnessed floodsâ¯in Europeâ¯and China, droughtâ¯inâ¯Madagascar, forest firesâ¯in the USâ¯and an earthquake in Haiti, to name but a few.
Thereâ¯canâ¯be no doubt that we’re in the midst of aâ¯globalâ¯climate emergency, but whileâ¯we’re all in the same storm, we are not in the same boat.â¯People in the world’s poorest countriesâ¯are bearing the brunt ofâ¯climate change, with a lack of clean water and decent sanitation making their sufferingâ¯unimaginablyâ¯worse.
Theâ¯climate crisis is a water crisis.â¯One in ten peopleâ¯have no clean water close to home, compromisingâ¯their health, education and livelihoods, andâ¯nowâ¯they are facing an increasingly uncertain futureâ¯because of climate change. Every day, fragile water supplies are at even greater risk of disappearing completelyâ¯as droughtsâ¯dryâ¯up sources and floods contaminate them, threatening the lives of people living in poverty.
I joined WaterAid in London on the banks of the Thames where the international charity unveiled four striking ice sculptures featuring peopleâ¯fromâ¯aroundâ¯the world collecting water from unreliable and unsafe sources.â¯The beautiful statues represented the serious message thatâ¯our water is fragile â¯and we need to protect it.â¯As theâ¯iceâ¯began to melt,â¯itâ¯highlightedâ¯theâ¯need for urgencyâ¯and theâ¯consequences ofâ¯globalâ¯complacency.
François,â¯31,â¯from Burkina Faso, was one of the people whose story was brought to life through the ice. The wells in his villageâ¯have startedâ¯dryingâ¯up because of rising temperaturesâ¯and heâ¯has toâ¯juggle with the little water he has, or “simply give up certain needs due to lack of water”.
Susmita,â¯22,â¯from India,â¯used to collect water fromâ¯freshwater rivers near her home, butâ¯rivers are drying upâ¯because of the changing weatherâ¯and now she mustâ¯walk a long way each day to collectâ¯saltyâ¯water. She said she had never heard of cyclones before, but now theyâ¯hear one will hit almost every year, making it even more difficult to get water.
Whenâ¯Iâ¯travelled with WaterAid toâ¯Mozambiqueâ¯– another country vulnerable to climate changeâ¯–â¯I sawâ¯howâ¯clean water, good sanitation and hygiene canâ¯transform whole communities. Children can stay healthyâ¯and inâ¯school, and womenâ¯no longer have to risk their safety collecting water from remote areas and have time to earn a living.â¯If everyone had access to clean water, they would also be better able toâ¯protect themselves from the destructive effects of climate change.
A report by WaterAid last year found that half of all countries receive less than $4 per head, per year for climate mitigation and adaptation, and some of the most vulnerable countries receive significantly less than this.
This is whyâ¯I’m adding my voiceâ¯to theâ¯WaterAid’sâ¯open letterâ¯alongsideâ¯nearly 10,000 members of public, includingâ¯other actors, artistsâ¯andâ¯cross-party politicians.â¯Together, weâ¯are calling onâ¯Boris Johnson and Liz Trussâ¯toâ¯investâ¯a third of the UK’s committed international climate funding inâ¯locally-ledâ¯adaptation projects,â¯to help vulnerable communities get a reliable source of water.
Rich nations have failed to live up to theirâ¯promises on climate investment, but as we gear up to COP26, the UK has the chance to turn the tideâ¯and ensureâ¯more finance goes to help the world’s poorest and most climate-vulnerable communities.
With a reliable supply of clean water, people can recover more quickly from disasters and can stay healthy and thrive, whatever the future holds. You too canâ¯join Our Climate Fight â¯and help make a differenceâ¯to communities across the worldâ¯for generations to come.
For more information, visit wateraid.org