WaterAid Malawi calls on govt o prioritise water in its climate plans

WaterAid Malawi has reiterated its emphasis on the need to take urgent actions to help poor communities adjust to changing weather patterns by calling on Malawi Government to prioritise water in its climate plans.

WaterAid Country Director Mercy Masoo

In a statement to commemorates World Water Day on Monday, October 22, WaterAid said climate change threatens water access for the world’s poorest.

“Without easy access to clean water, people’s lives are blighted by sickness, poverty, and the endless drudgery of collecting water,” said the statement.

“Women and girls around the world already collectively spend an estimated 200 million hours a year — or around 23,000 years of their lives — walking to fetch water.

“For the one in 10 of the world’s population that do not have clean water close to home, the hours spent collecting water or the time needed to recover from waterborne illnesses caused by dirty water, robs entire communities of an opportunity to build a better future.”

WaterAid further says 31% of the Malawi population do not have access to clean water — translating to 5.8 million people out of the over 17 million people.

“For water, climate change acts as a threat multiplier, worsening problems caused by poor management of water resources, lack of political will, and inadequate investment.

“With the current climate scenario, it is predicted that water scarcity will displace between 24 million and 700 million people, by 2030.

“Currently only 5% of total global climate funding is spent on helping countries adapt to their changing climate, and that money is not targeted at the communities most vulnerable to climate change.

“The investment in ensuring that everyone no matter where they live has a reliable and safe water source to help make communities become more resilient to climate change, is completely inadequate to the growing crisis — some of the most climate vulnerable countries only receive $1 per person per year for investment in water.”

In its analysis, WaterAid Malawi says the impact of climate change on people’s water supplies is being overlooked which is a major threat on progress made in bringing clean water to all.

WaterAid’s latest report — ‘Turn the tide: The state of the world’s water 2021’ — shows how people are losing access to clean water as longer droughts dry up springs, seawater infiltrates groundwater supplies and landslides take out water pumps.

The organisation shows that investing in water systems that provide a reliable supply whatever the weather, is a frontline defence against the impact of climate change.

“Malawi is highly vulnerable to natural disasters which are related to climate change. Over the past two decades, droughts and floods have increased in frequency, intensity, and magnitude.

“Consequently, there have been negative impacts on food and water security, and on the sustainable livelihoods of rural people. In the crucial battle to reduce current and future global emissions, the situation faced now by those most impacted by climate change has been given little focus or investment.”

WaterAid announced that on March 31, the UK government will host a virtual Climate and Development event to build momentum towards this year’s UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow (COP26).

And thus, WaterAid Malawi is also calling on Malawi Government to address current and future threats to water access as part of its national climate action plan — including Nationally Determined Contributions, National Action Plan, and national budgets.

WaterAid is also urging Malawi Government to ensure the voices of local communities and marginalised groups are heard in planning decisions around adaptation.

Country Director Mercy Masoo said: “Climate change is making it more difficult for vulnerable people to be able to rely on having clean water when they need it and it’s a great injustice that the world’s poorest people, who’ve contributed the least to the crisis, are living with its most destructive impacts.

“Unless communities have access to a reliable source of water, people’s health will suffer, and they’ll be burdened with spending more and more time searching for water, taking away the opportunity to create a better life and escape poverty.

“Malawi Government needs to recognise the critical role that clean water has in helping communities cope with climate change and set in place deliberate interventions to ensure that the most marginalised communities have access to safe water, decent sanitation and good hygiene amidst the ever growing impact of climate change,” she said.

Last week, WaterAid challenged governments in southern Africa region to seriously consider sanitation and hygiene as a priority by increasing national budgetary allocations towards this sector.

WaterAid’s regional director for southern Africa, Robert Kampala had said this during a southern Africa regional senior editor’s webinar meeting on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), a service that remains a fundamental human right to the citizenry of these countries.

He noted that most governments in the region are providing low budgetary allocations to the sector despite their earlier commitments to increase it.

“Stakeholders in the sector and the media need to remind their governments through several channels for them to appreciate that the provision of quality sanitation and hygiene remains a fundamental human right to every citizen in their countries,” Kampala had said.

He also observed that Malawi has over 17 million people, 13.8 million of whom don’t have access to a decent toilet and that more than 3,000 children die every year due to dirty water and poor sanitation.

Kampala added that in Zambia the inequality gap was widening as 6.8 million people still do not have access to clean water, which is almost half of the population of the country yet in recent budget announcement for 2021 — the WASH budget was reduced by 17%.

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