Climate change is water change.
Already in cities, the poorest residents struggle to get enough clean water for their daily needs.
And climate change is making the situation worse – exacerbating inequalities, and impacting on residents’ health and prosperity.
Increased drought, more extreme flooding and rising sea levels are all affecting water supply. Higher temperatures mean that people need to drink more water just to get through the day. Climate change is also forcing people to migrate from rural areas to makeshift urban neighbourhoods, increasing the demand on fragile services.
A new report by WSUP shows how improved access to water and sanitation services is the missing link in helping cities adapt to climate change.
We need to act now to help cities improve their resilience to climate change, through strengthened water and sanitation systems.
As the WASH sector builds resilience, there is need to manage water demand, among competing needs, while putting more focus on water losses to mitigate the challenge of climate change.
Protecting groundwater in the face of climate change
Groundwater has many advantages over surface water, as it is often more reliable, nearer to households and less vulnerable to pollution. However, climate change is causing groundwater to become increasingly under threat. In Madagascar, for example, boreholes are ceasing to be valuable due to the reduced amount of rain. We must protect this precious resource in the face of climate change.
WSUP promotes urban resilience at COP26
At COP26 WSUP supported efforts to highlight resilience and adaptation efforts in cities. We worked with city leaders and partners from Lusaka, Maputo and Nairobi to share experiences of building urban resilience in the face of climate change, and highlight how access to water and sanitation needs to be central to adaptation efforts.
The missing link in urban climate adaptation
Clean water and safe sanitation services have the potential to play a major role in helping the poorest urban communities adapt to climate change. A report by WSUP shows how improved access to water and sanitation services is the missing link in helping cities adapt to climate change.
Rebuilding in the wake of climate disasters
In the aftermath of the 2019 Cyclone Idai, which caused extensive damage to Beira in Mozambique, WSUP is supporting the city to rebuild water and sanitation services.
Our work aims to create more resilient services so that, as extreme weather events in the region become more common, vulnerable residents in Beira have sustainable access to clean water and safe sanitation.
Building more resilient water services
As the effects of man-made climate change become more pronounced, water shortages are becoming more common throughout Africa, with Southern Africa identified as a particular climate change hotspot.
Climate proofing sanitation systems
Challenges such as water shortages, and increased severity of flooding can result in basic sanitation systems becoming overwhelmed.
As a result, there is a need to rethink urban sanitation systems to make them fit for purpose and more suitable for those residents most at risk from climate change.
Protecting against the affects of worsening flooding
Climate change is causing more flooding, which can wreak havoc on water and sanitation infrastructure. In 2020, the city of Rangpur, Bangladesh, was badly affected by flooding; whilst in Maputo, Mozambique, we have worked with the city council to improve drainage around low-income communities.