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.

We need to act now to help cities improve their resilience to climate change, through strengthened water and sanitation systems.


The summer is getting warmer each year and the demand for drinking water is increasing.

Mohsin Howlader
Mohsin Howlader, Community leaderDhaka

Building climate resilient services in Madagascar

Madagascar is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change, and water is scarce in the peri-urban communities around the capital, Antananarivo.

Learn how a lack of clean water affected Rasoa’s life, and how things have changed now that a new water kiosk has been installed near her house by JIRAMA, the national water utility.

Video: March 2020 – Bright water, bright future

Rasoa, resident in Antananarivo

From the front line of climate change

Ahead of this year’s World Water Day, WSUP has been finding out how climate change affects the water and sanitation needs of city residents. These stories from Bangladesh, Mozambique and Zambia give a snapshot of the climate challenges faced around the world.

Blog: March 2020 – From the front line of climate change: residents tell their stories

Post-disaster resilience in Mozambique

More investment in resilient water and sanitation services is needed to help cities cope with extreme weather events.

In 2019, Cyclone Idai destroyed much of the city of Beira, and thousands of families are still struggling to recover.

WSUP is supporting the utility, community groups and urban authorities to build stronger and long lasting water and sanitation systems in the city.

Blog: Sept 2019 – Six months after two deadly cyclones, Mozambique needs more than just rebuilding

Destroyed property in Beira, Mozambique

Using data to tackle impacts of flooding

Increasingly heavy rains can cause weak sanitation infrastructure to flood, leading to contamination of groundwater. In Lusaka, WSUP is using data to help authorities understand when pit latrines need to be emptied, so that communities can act to prevent the spread of cholera during the rainy season.

Report: June 2018 – Mapping sanitation in peri-urban Lusaka: A toilet database

Data from the Toilet Tracker

Improving drainage to minimise impacts of flooding

Climate change is causing more flooding, which can wreak havoc on water and sanitation infrastructure. In Maputo, we have worked with the city council, CMM, to improve drainage around low-income communities.

Report: Feb 2018 – An integrated approach to peri-urban sanitation and hygiene in Maputo

Chamanculo sanitation block, Maputo

Research to support climate resilience

Our research also has a role to play improving climate resilience. A recent study assessed the impact of extending services to low-income communities on city-wide water demand.

Importantly, findings of the study suggested that many thousands of low-income consumers in Nairobi and Accra could benefit from an improved level of service – a yard tap connection – with only a small increase in demand at the city level; in other words, water scarcity is not an excuse for limiting services to low-income communities.

Report: March 2016 – How do improved services to slum areas impact water demand at the city level?