By Vivian Emoni
Abuja – Wateraid has urged the Federal Government and international organisations to include safe water and sanitation in their plans in dealing with the impact of climate change in the country.
Mrs Evelyn Mere, the Country Director of Wateraid said this on Monday in a statement issued by Mrs Oluseyi Abdulmalik, Communication and Media Manager of the organisation in Abuja.
Mere said that changes in climate were making life harder for the poorest people who were already struggling to get clean water.
According to her, currently, there are about 55 million people in the country, 29 per cent of the population who don’t even have a basic water pump.
“This challenge is making it much harder to cope with the growing impacts of climate change.
“Wateraid is calling on government, international organisations and other relevant stakeholders for urgent action on water as first line of defense against growing threat of climate change.
“No one can survive without clean water. No one can thrive if they have to struggle to find it.
“Wateraid’s report shows that far too little is spent on helping the most vulnerable people adapt to the impacts of climate change which is putting the health and lives of millions at risk.
“Governments must recognise the vital role clean water plays in helping their people to be more resilient to climate change.
“The government should try to work on how it can address the threat urgently so that future generations can stay safe and healthy.
“Climate change also affects the occurrence of infectious diseases. Climatic conditions affect epidemic diseases, shifting the burden of diseases and increasing health risks for the populace.
“Everyone needs water to survive. Ensuring that everyone has a source of safe water they can rely on whatever the weather, is the vital first line of defence against the growing threat of climate change.
“The most immediate and widespread impacts of climate change are felt through water extreme droughts, sea level rises, more frequent floods and powerful storms, all of which threaten people’s access to safe water.
“It is therefore crucial that we tackle climate change so as to mitigate these health risks as well,’’ she said.
The country director said that clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene services transform lives and improve livelihoods.
She called on government to include planning for how to provide climate resilient water and sanitation services in its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) plans.
Mere said that Nigeria ranks 55th most vulnerable country to climate change, among the top 35 per cent in the world, noting that the country only received 1 dollar per person, per year in climate finance.
“This is for mitigation, cutting carbon emissions and adaptation reducing the impacts of climate change.
“While developing countries contribute very little to global carbon emissions, they are the least prepared to withstand the effects with little money allocated towards helping them.
“The average person in Nigeria accounts annually for emissions of 0.546 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide compared to the average per capita emission in the U.S. of 16.5 metric tonnes.
“Across the world, nearly 800 million people do not have access to clean water close to home.
“While a staggering two billion people do not have access to a water service that is free from contamination, putting them at risk of waterborne disease and death.
“By 2050, the number of people expected to face problems in getting water at least once a month is expected to swell to five billion globally, over 50 per cent of the world’s population.
“Access to clean water is uniquely vulnerable as climate change piles more pressure on water sources that are already overstretched due to inadequate infrastructures, poor water management and a lack of government funding.
“To make these basic needs normal for everyone, everywhere within a generation, we must keep taps running, toilets working and reinforce good hygiene behaviours.’’