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IN 2020, ALMOST 2.2 BILLION PEOPLE DID NOT HAVE ACCESS TO SAFE DRINKING WATER, ACCORDING TO THE UN. THAT IS 1 IN 3 PEOPLE. GLOBAL WARMING IS MAKING NATURAL DISASTERS MUCH MORE COMMON. THESE CATASTROPHES ARE AFFECTING ACCESS TO WATER IN SEVERAL REGIONS WORLDWIDE.
To mark World Water Day 2021, the UN has decided to encourage people all over the world to share their stories and thoughts about what water means to them. These accounts show how water is appreciated by different people in different contexts, to highlight the importance of protecting this precious resource that benefits everyone.
As fresh water supplies are limited and unevenly distributed, the effects of global warming are a particular threat to populations that already struggle to access clean drinking water day to day.
Humanitarian crises, conflicts, poverty and climate events are all obstacles that hinder development in high-risk areas.
A growing population and the consequent increase in consumption needs have caused our greenhouse gas emissions to soar, along with temperatures. Extreme climate events like droughts, floods and storms, which harm drinking water quality and availability, are therefore becoming increasingly frequent. They can make water rarer, less predictable, more polluted or all of the above.
These climate phenomena are recurrent, creating serious problems for the populations affected. Droughts, for example, are getting longer and becoming more common in many regions of the world. The Mediterranean, Southern Africa, South Asia and the Sahel region have all seen increasingly serious droughts in recent decades, with devastating effects on crops and livestock. Floods, meanwhile, damage crops and water treatment facilities and contaminate water with faecal matter from the land.
Higher temperatures can also help bacteria and germs to thrive. The result: waves of waterborne diseases that kill up to 3.2 million people per year, according to the WHO. Illnesses like cholera and diarrhoea then cause other problems, like malnutrition, and weaken populations.
The consequences of global warming affect the entire world, but especially populations that are already vulnerable. This situation aggravates the problem of world hunger. That is why our water, sanitation and hygiene action is so important, especially after natural disasters. In the countries where we operate, the priority is to restore water supply points, deliver safe drinking water, build emergency latrines, manage human waste and bring epidemics under control.
Another important task in the fight against hunger and malnutrition is to implement sustainable solutions in the countries where we work. We fight food insecurity through agricultural and income-generating activities, food assistance and observation of the food situation.
As part of a sustainable, organic agriculture approach, our teams promote agroecology and agroforestry among populations, so that they can grow crops without harming the environment. To become more effective, we carry out advanced contextual analyses and evaluate our projects in order to train our staff better and provide the best possible response for populations.
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