I remember few years ago, the only problem in developing countries was the scarcity of safe drinking water . There was abundance of water, but the question is its safety and potability for people. Just like the rural villages I have visited these past few weeks in some part of Central Mindanao, Philippines – safe water is their number one problem. They only have few water sources – I am talking about the dugwells and water pumps contaminated by e.coli, not the usual watersource you find in the homes of people in 1st world countries. The poverty has driven them away from their right to access in public health services. Worse, hundreds of women, men, and children were dying!
‘If everyone had access to clean water, much of the disease in the world could be prevented. Every day about 25,000 people die from diseases like diarrhoea which are carried by dirty water. It is much more difficult to stay clean and healthy when safe water is scarce and has to be carried over long distances.’ (Primary Topic Posters: Water, Oxfam 1998)
‘Diarrhoea kills 1.8 million children under five every year, but most cases could easily be prevented or treated.’
‘Scarce or polluted water supplies and lack of sanitation are responsible for more than ten million deaths each year.’ (State of the World, Worldwatch 2002)
‘A Masai person in Kenya uses ten litres of water a day. An American in Los Angeles uses 500 litres of water a day.’ (H2knOw – Live Differently, Christian Aid 2005)
And now, let us expect the worst! Why?
Climate Change is worsening the situation. Poor people can’t even access to water and sanitation, and health services. Their way to survive is to adapt in dirty water available in their village. If they get sick, there are no doctors to attend to them, worse, even money to afford medicines. They cannot afford facilities for a safer water source and lessen the possibility of being afflicted with water and vector borne diseases.
These underprivileged don’t understand the link with climate change. But you know what? They are the first hit and affected! Worsening of flashflooding, extreme droughts, death in heatwaves, increase cases of water and vector-borne diseases make the world unpredictable.
Yes, climate change will affect water supply. Shortage of water supply will cause people’s lives and livelihoods to be in danger because of their dependance on water (e.g. farming and fishing). Water scarcity encourages people to transport water long distances and store supplies in their homes. This can increase the risk of household water contamination, causing illnesses, according to World Health Organisation.
For this year celebration of World Health Day on April 7, the theme is focused on “Climate Change and Health.” Go to this link and it will probably help you understand WHY… (Climate Change and Health).
When we celebrate this significant event, let’s bring the voices of the poor (who are most likely affected) together – rather than concentrate on the glamorous events and celebrities.