In the dry season, ponds and rivers dry up and water is even harder to find. When floods come, these water sources are often contaminated by human waste, and disease spreads fast. Climate change is making these challenges worse, leading to more extreme weather.

When the changing climate causes extreme weather, it's the poorest people who suffer most, being least able to prepare and protect themselves.

Clean water points and toilets that are designed to withstand extreme weather make the poorest people more secure, both in terms of their health and livelihoods. Wells and pumps that make groundwater accessible can stop people having to drink dirty water from contaminated, unreliable sources like ponds and rivers. And decent sanitation close to home stops human waste spreading deadly diarrhoeal diseases. Good hygiene habits, like washing your hands with soap, protect people further.

COP 23: pushing water, sanitation and hygiene up the agenda

Find out where WASH fits in to climate change adaptation decisions, and what WaterAid is doing about it.

Alzira dos Santos, 60, WaterAid beneficiary waters her garden, Lulibaba, Laclolema, Suco Dato, Liquica district, Timor Leste, 2013 WaterAid/Tom Greenwood

Our approach

We have over 30 years’ experience of putting in place high quality services that last. We share our expert knowledge with governments and the private sector to change even more lives. We campaign for more climate change money to be spent on clean water, decent sanitation and good hygiene, making the poorest people better able to cope with extreme weather.

It’s about more than good quality technologies. We partner with local governments and businesses to build and strengthen systems. We work with them to reduce the risks to people’s health and livelihoods when disaster strikes. Together, we find ways for them to manage their water resources over time, so people have the water they need not just for drinking, but for watering crops and livestock, cooking and cleaning, and making a living.

Importantly, we work together with communities to identify the kinds of problems they face now, and might face in the future. We help them get involved in planning and managing their services. We also modify the technologies we use to suit the local context and withstand extreme weather. The future is uncertain, so we take a ‘no regrets’ approach by building reliable systems that make sense regardless of whether communities are hit by more extreme weather or natural hazards. This makes communities more resilient, helping them be as ready as they can be for climate change.

We will continue to work with governments, the private sector and communities to put clean water, decent sanitation and good hygiene at the heart of climate change action. So that everyone, everywhere will have these basic human rights, whatever the future holds.

Resources

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