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Water and the Climate Crisis - What you should know

By Lucy Clarke · June 30, 2022
Water and Climate

As the world gets warmer, and weather systems become increasingly more disrupted, we will see an increase in extreme weather events. Climate change is one of the many factors affecting water security. 

This includes droughts, floods and tornadoes. Between 2001 and 2018, 74% of all these extreme weather events were directly related to water. Read on to find out about the dangers of climate change. 

Which extreme weather events are directly linked to water?

Floods and droughts are two extreme weather events that are directly linked to both the climate crisis and water shortage. 

Longer and more severe droughts dry up springs creating and exacerbating water shortages. 

Higher temperatures cause more ice to melt, leading to rising sea levels and more extreme weather events, including flooding. Severe flooding damages crops, homes and communities, and fast moving water can sweep away people too. 

Both floods and droughts impact fragile water systems and both of these natural disasters only increase the severity of the water shortage crisis. 

How do droughts affect the water supply?

In areas where there are already shockingly low levels of access to water, and clean water is even harder to come by, floods and droughts will have devastating consequences for these communities. 

1 in 10 people do not have clean water close to their homes, and 450 million children worldwide either live in areas of high or extremely high water vulnerability. More extreme weather conditions will only increase the lack of access to clean water. 

Droughts mean that people must walk much further than before to find sources of water. These water sources are likely to be contaminated and dirty, which will make people sick. 

Droughts also affect the entire food system too. Without enough water, farmers can’t water their crops and as a result their crops wilt and cattle die. They have less produce to sell, and people have less food to eat. 

What impact do floods have on clean water supplies?

Many countries are badly affected by both flooding and droughts, such as Malawi, Pakistan and Timor Leste. 

Additionally,these countries do not have the resources to help either prevent or solve these disasters which are only set to intensify.

Floods destroy crops, homes and communities. They can contaminate the water supply, causing communities to survive off flood waters after the fragile water infrastructures have broken down. 

Floodwaters can carry dirt, faeces and disease, increasing the rates of sickness caused by waterborne diseases in the community. 

Who will be most affected by water insecurity created by droughts and floods? 

Children are one of the most vulnerable groups affected by limited water availability and water insecurity. If nothing is done to reverse these catastrophic events, then by 2040, it is predicted that 1 in 4 children will live in areas of high water stress. 

Waterborne diseases are one of the leading causes of death for the under fives. Everyday, 700 children under five die of diarrhoea directly linked to access to dirty water. Children are going to be one of the largest groups that will be the most affected by climate change.  

Water insecurity and climate change will directly affect child survival rates on three fronts.

Children will be exposed to an increased risk of waterborne diseases, they are more likely to become malnourished due to increased droughts and flooding events, and there are threats to their access to clean water and sanitation.

Flood

How can water create opportunities to mitigate climate change?

While these severe events such as droughts and floods are increased because of climate change, water can also be an opportunity to mitigate the effects of climate change. 

The world needs to adapt to the warming planet, and creating more robust water supply systems could be part of that solution.

If we integrated our views on water, the biosphere and environmental flows, we could devise sustainable economic and agricultural systems that would mitigate the issues created by climate change.

By creating a new system based around water, we could work together to slow down climate change, protect communities from the effects of extreme weather and adapt to the problems we can’t avoid at the same time. 

How can Elliot for Water help lessen this crisis?

Elliot for Water’s browser extension can help communities gain access to clean water and sanitation. By maintaining clean water and sanitation infrastructure, we can minimise the causes of water insecurity - even in times of drought and flooding. 

We use 60% of our profits to finance clean water projects in the countries that need it most. By 2025, we want to provide clean drinking water to 1 million people. You’re just one click away from changing lives.