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[OPINION] In the face of mounting climate crisis, it is crucial to invest in water supply and sanitation

[OPINION] In the face of mounting climate crisis, it is crucial to invest in water supply and sanitation

[OPINION] Crying out for water

‘Less than half of the world’s population can rely on a toilet that is connected to a system that safely manages human waste. Many people use pits or hanging latrines that empty into rivers and lakes …’.

Imagine the global climate crisis. You might picture dry, cracked earth that is thirsty. Or, heavy rains or surging rivers that sweep away whole villages. 

Climate variability has been a reality of many communities around the world for a long time. But today, they are being battered and more unpredictable by severe weather events. 

According to a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC), Our climate crisis is primarily caused by humans, pushing nature and human made systems beyond their capacity to adapt. 

The good news? Because the problem is human-caused, it can also human-solved. However, our resilience and survival are heavily dependent on how we manage water quality and sanitation. 

Ninety percent of climate-related problems are caused by humans are water-related, including floods, droughts, and deteriorating water quality. Nearly 40% of the world’s population is already living in poverty. 3.5 billion peopleThey are extremely vulnerable to their impacts. This number is expected to increase exponentially over the next few years. 

Many countries that are climate-vulnerable have the lowest access to water and sanitation. 

Over Two billion peopleOne in four people in the world live in areas where there is insufficient water supply. Half of the world’s population could be living in areas facing water scarcity by as early as 2025. The ability to provide water for our children is being affected by the declining water supply. 3 out 10 peopleWorldwide, it is important to wash your hands. The World Health Organization has designated this as the first line of defense against COVID-19 or other infectious diseases. 

Only 34.5% have access to safe-managed water, while over 7,000,000 have limited or no access for basic hygiene..

It also hinders water-reliant sanitation systems such as flush toilets or sewers. 673 million people. To make matters worse, less than half of the world’s population can rely on a toilet that is connected to a system that safely manages human waste. Many people use pits or hanging latrines that dump into rivers and lakes, contaminating water sources that are used for drinking, cooking, or cleaning. 

This can have devastating effects on human health as it can cause outbreaks of waterborne and vector-borne disease. At the very least, 2 billion peopleGlobally, people drink contaminated water, which puts them at risk for contracting cholera and dysentery. This can also lead to polio, which can cause severe strains on national health systems. 

Access to safe and managed sanitation facilities is not available for approximately 45% of urban Filipinos, and 34% of rural Filipinos.

Human waste, left outside and untreated, also produces methane and nitrous oxide – harmful greenhouse gas emissions which contribute to global warming. Capturing these emissions through strategic sanitation management can be a source of renewable energy, turning treatment facilities into net “Zero Energy”Users can even produce enough energy to power nearby homes and businesses.

Also, recycling wastewater can help reduce water scarcity. Nearly 80% of wastewater enters our ecosystems untreated. Extreme weather events, such as heavy rains or floods, can overwhelm underprepared sanitation networks, spilling billions gallons of waste into local waterways as well as our oceans. This can pose a health risk and threaten vital ecosystems. 

High on the agenda will be investments in water and sanitation to mitigate the effects of climate change. Sector Ministers’ MeetingThe Jakarta on May 18-19, will host the, which will take place at the Water and Sanitation for AllUNICEF and the Government of Indonesia have partnered. The event will have as its participants the ministers of water, sanitation and the environment from Southeast Asia and the rest the world.

Our government leaders’ success will depend on how quickly we can implement mitigation strategies – targeted at reducing global warming – and adaptation plans which will build community resilience to extreme weather events.

[OPINION] Crying out for water
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When it comes to adaptation, making sure our infrastructures are more resilient will help us increase water availability during times of scarcity, strengthen sanitation systems against flooding, and protect our livelihood security, health, and food. 

Yet, currently, Only 5% of global climate funds are available Climate adaptation is the main focus of that money. Most of the money is used to build large infrastructure in urban areas. 80% of the extreme poor75% of the moderately poor live in rural areas. Sanitation and Water for All partners demand that governments and businesses increase their financial commitments for climate action and allocate 50% of climate financing for adaptation.

As COVID-19 response exhausts budgets, policymakers might hesitate to increase investments in water or sanitation. These investments are expected to yield benefits, according to estimates. 21 times higher than their initial cost.This could mean that trillions of dollars could easily be made available to support sustainable environmental practices and health, as well as promote sustainability and healthy living. This money could be channeled into climate adaptation, which would have economic benefits and help us all to win the fight to stop climate change’s devastating effects. 

We have the tools to get out of this crisis. The burden of climate change can be eased by smart water and sanitation management, especially for the most vulnerable. But we must act now we are to stop the clock on the planet’s deterioration. –

Catarina de Albuquerque joined Sanitation and Water for All in 2014 and has quickly moved to positioned SWA as a vital contributor to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 6. She was previously the first UN Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation. 

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