WaterAid: Global climate finance insufficient to ‘save lives and livelihoods’

Pictured: Residents of Birtadeurali in Nepal Image: WaterAid/ Mani Karmacharya

That is the headline finding of a new study from WaterAid, which analysed publicly available data on climate finance, state of water access and climate vulnerability to measure the gap between existing funding and the level needed through to 2050.

This finance gap, while present in the majority of global nations, was found to be the most pronounced in developing nations across Africa, Asia and South America.

Yemen was found to receive the least climate funding per person, per year, at just $1.17 (91p). Sudan, ranked the world’s seventh most climate-vulnerable nation by the Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index, did not fare much better, receiving $1.33 (£1) per person, per year.

Finance from governments, other public sector sources, investment firms, individual investors and businesses were all included in WaterAid’s calculations. The charity used data collected between 2010 and 2017 to create the per head, per year, averages.

Given that WaterAid’s mission centres around bringing clean water and sanitation to all, the study also makes a specific analysis of climate finance for water service adaptation. Scientific studies have repeatedly shown that increasing temperatures increase the risk of water stress for large swathes of the global population – particularly those in the global south.  

Among the ten countries with the lowest number of people with access to water close to home, WaterAid found that an average of just 65p per person, per year is spent on climate finance for water service adaptation. 

As the analysis moved onto nations with slightly better water provisions – those which are not in the ten worst affected but where 10% or more of the population don’t have access to clean water near their homes – the trend was found to persist. Half of the countries in this cohort receive 77p per person, per year for climate-related water service adaptation. 

WaterAid is using these findings to campaign for a rapid ten-fold increase in climate finance for water service adaptation, prioritising nations where universal clean water access is not yet available. The campaign is expected to receive backing from a swathe of businesses, including brewing giant Diageo, and from Prince Charles at a launch event in London next week.

“Making sure that everyone, wherever they live, is able to rely on a safe supply of water no matter what the weather brings is one of the best investments you can make to help people cope with climate change,” WaterAid’s chief executive Tim Wainwright said.

“We can expect more extreme weather events, more uncertainty and likely more people forced to live without safe water. We cannot just allow lives and livelihoods to be lost through inaction.”  

Those interested in finding out more about the intersections of water, climate and finance are encouraged to read edie’s coverage of previous World Water Weeks:

Sarah George

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