#DayZero looms and has highlighted the urgency of the global water crisis. This blog takes excerpts from an article published by Unicef with the intention of highlighting the dangers facing future generations and the health implications around poor sanitation when the water runs out.
Climate change is contributing to a growing water crisis, putting the lives of millions of children at risk
By 2040, almost 600 million children will live in areas with extremely limited water resources. That’s around 1 in 4 children worldwide.
A major factor in water stress will be a global increase in demand for water, driven largely by industrialization, population growth, demographic shifts, food production and increased consumption. Taking longer showers, cleaning cars, watering gardens and eating more meat – all take their toll. In many of the regions projected to be hit hardest, we are already witnessing a water crisis unfolding.
When it comes to the world’s water supply, only a tiny amount (2.5 per cent) is actually fresh water, the type needed to sustain human, animal and plant life.
Sea levels are rising faster than before, and as they do, salt water can infiltrate water supplies and make the water undrinkable.
The higher temperatures also cause droughts and floods, and an increase in water-linked diseases.
When water becomes scarce during droughts, many people resort to drinking unsafe water, putting children at risk of deadly diseases. Water and sanitation related diseases are one of the leading causes of death in children under 5 years old. Every day, over 800 children under 5 die from diarrhoea linked to inadequate water supply, sanitation and poor hygiene.
In Lesotho, for example, the drought in 2016 caused many safe water sources to dry up, forcing families to search for unsafe alternatives and leading to an increase in diarrhoea cases.
In the event of floods, latrines and toilets can be destroyed or damaged, which can contaminate water supplies and make them unsafe to drink.
Today’s children, and their children, will bear the brunt of climate change. We must work together to make sure children are at the heart of climate discussions and decisions – and to make sure their voices are heard. This crisis is not inevitable, but we must act now.