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Climate Change Finance Is Short-changing The World's Most Vulnerable

LONDON, United Kingdom

New analysis from NGO WaterAid reveals that only a very small proportion of climate finance (for both mitigaton and adaptation) reaches the most vulnerable countries or is spent addressing the most urgent issues putting billions of lives at risk of water-borne diseases due to lack of water service that is reliable and safe from contamination.

In “Short-changed on Climate Change: Money, Water and the People on the Frontline”, released 5 March, WaterAid draws on publicly available data on climate finance and examines the state of water access and climate vulnerability. The UK-based non-profit has called for a rapid ten-fold increase in funding to assist vulnerable countries to bolster water mitigation and adaption programs.

Key take-aways from the analysis of publicly available data:

  • Half of all countries receive less than $5.20 USD per head per year in climate finance for both climate mitigation and adaptation.
  • Two billion people do not have a water service that can withstand the impacts of climate change.
  • Half of countries where more than 10 percent of people do not have water close to home get less than $1 per head per year in climate finance for water service adaptation.
  • The ten countries with the lowest number of people with access to water close to home get on average 84 cents per person per year in climate finance for water service adaptation.

The report draws a connection between the country’s vulnerability to climate change, the amount of per capita climate change funding and the responsibility of the recipient country in contributing to CO2 emissions, a leading cause of rising temperatures and resultant climate change.

In the instance of Sudan, the country is ranked the 7th most vulnerable to the impact of climate change and receives about $1.33 per person per year in financing for both mitigation and adaptation. WaterAid suggests that this about 66 percent of the average daily gas bill in the UK. In addition, the report cites that each person in Sudan is responsible for CO2 emissions that are almost 22 times less than the UK average.

It is further assessed that the ten countries with the lowest number of people with access to water close to home receive an average of 84 cents per person per year in climate finance for water service adaptation. To emphasise the point, Madagascar, where nearly half the population do not have water close to home, gets just 17 cents per person per year. In the UK about 17 cents would power an average family car for 1.25 miles.

WaterAid’s assessment suggests that failure to adapt to the impacts of climate change could see the number of people who lack access to sufficient water at least one month per year rise 3.6 billion in 2020 to more than 5 billion by 2050, or about 50 percent of the population. WaterAid puts a different perspective on it: one person every second will be forced into water scarcity between now and 2050.

Tim Wainwright, WaterAid’s Chief Executive, said: “Billions of people around the world are already living with the impact of the climate crisis. But most of the suffering brought about by climate change does not make the headlines – it is poor and vulnerable communities, who have done virtually nothing to create this situation, finding it harder and harder each year to find enough clean water to live".

“No-one can survive without clean water and no-one can thrive if they have to struggle to find it. 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".

“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".

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