Climate Change and Health

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)

These are all the snapshot preview from World Water Facts of Oxfam on water and health problems these past few years.

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.

“for more of Baikong Mamid articles just press me to lead you to her blog”

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About yashidasia

starting a book. currently thinking about the character protagonist
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5 Responses to Climate Change and Health

  1. matt says:

    Hi Baikong

    An extremely important area for health; clean, fresh water available on tap for cleaning and cooking. It is true that climate change affects this availability, especially the increasingly sporadic nature of rainfall and the flooding that occurs causing pollution to mix into water supplies.

    The UN and the World Bank increasingly relies on private water companies to move into developing countries to try and provide much needed infrastructure. It is questionable as to whether this will work. There are problems in Tanzania for example where work from the private consortium has stopped because not enough citizens are paying their water bills, the money for which supports this capitalist approach to increasing fresh water supplies. If people don’t pay their bill they are cut off! This is increasingly happening to poorer people in ‘the west’ as well.

    To all other contributors and readers at The Coffee House;

    I’d like to introduce you to our East Asia Correspondent, Baikong Mamid who will be contributing articles on issues important to developing countries. I’d like to extent a warm welcome to Baikong from all of us here. 🙂

  2. Baikong says:

    Not only for cleaning and cooking, but for drinking as well. This is very much important to the people in the thirld world countries. If staple food is not available on their table, then drinking water is enough for them to survive a day’s struggle. Here in Philippines, especially the rural areas, they hardly find ways to eat thrice a day, what more if they have to pay bills! Their livelihood such as farming is not supported by the government, rice farmers are in debt because of the highly commercialised costs of the farm inputs. Instead, the government goes for the foreign investments in the country like growing of biofuel raw materials like jatropha and african palm oil. Now look at the current situation, there is rice crisis in the Philippines! Rice and water crisis if not being addressed by the government, then more underprivileged lives will be at stake.

    And lastly, thanks for welcoming me here Matt. 🙂

  3. matt says:

    Yes of course, drinking water as well. The issue of Europe insisting on a biofuels target for their cars of 10% is so misguided it’s unbelievable. The UK says it has strict criteria to keep out unsustainable biofuel sources and will encourage companies to list their crop sources. But as a campaigner said recently, even if this works, the surge in UK demand for biofuels will force other market buyers into unsustainable sources for fuels. He added that farmers the world over are also being forced to move into protected conservation land to provide food as other good land is taken for biofuels. Scarce water resources should NOT be used to grow crops to fuel western cars. This is so wrong.

  4. keithsc says:

    Hi Baikong It’s great that you have joined us and to have a perspective from a different country and culture. It’s very easy for us here in Britain to forget how vital water is but of course it is fundamental to our lives. As you say for many people in the world there is still no access to safe water and climate change will affect rainfall.

  5. Baikong says:

    Hi Keith – I’m thankful for the warm welcome here in the Coffee House. I would be very glad to share the situation here in the developing countries, for it is one of my goals to build awareness for other people on what’s happening here. 🙂

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