Water shortage

Water shortage due to climate change The global situation is alarming

A report by Evke Freya von Ahlefeldt

„The next war in the Middle East will be fought over water,“ predicted the then UN Secretary General Boutros Ghali as early as 1985.

Tanks to protect or defend wells have not yet been deployed, but international conflicts over water have been around for a long time. India and Pakistan are fighting for water rights on the Indus. Iraq and Turkey are fighting over the Tigris and Euphrates waters. Egypt and Ethiopia are also fighting over water in the basin of the Blue Nile. There is already a lack of water in 17 countries.

These include the Arab Gulf States, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Botswana and Eritrea. But also the small Mediterranean state of San Marino, Turkmenistan as well as India and Pakistan and Afghanistan belong to it. In Europe, too, the consequences can be felt in Italy, Portugal, Spain and Greece. Researchers from the World Resources Institute are also seeing in some Balkan countries and, surprisingly, in Belgium the development of water shortages with concern.

Access to clean water and hygiene is essential for survival and development – especially for young children. „Water and sanitation for all“ is therefore the sixth of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

A late 10 points die clearly showing the effects of climate change.

1. The water crisis is happening now! 2.2 billion people worldwide do not have regular access to clean water. An incredible number. Around 785 million people do not even have a basic supply of drinking water. People or families in the poorer regions of the world are particularly affected – and there especially in rural areas. More than two thirds of the earth is covered by water, but only less than three percent of it is drinkable. And this drinking water is also very unevenly distributed. In Africa, Latin America and Asia in particular, there is dramatic water shortage in many places. An estimated 3.6 billion people now live in areas that are extremely arid for at least one month a year. According to a recent study by UNICEF, more than 1.42 billion people worldwide live in areas with overall high or extremely high water insecurity, including 450 million children. There is currently no improvement in sight. The UN World Water Report from 2019 advocated „green“ solutions – such as natural water cycles that should be used for water supply. When does a real rethink take place?

2. Water not only has to be clean, it has to be „safe“. Here at UNICEF we speak of „safe“ water when it is accessible to people close to their home, available when needed and, of course, free from contamination. Only then can families be sure that their health is not at risk. What good is it if there is water nearby, but it comes from a polluted river and is full of pathogens? This is the situation for Baraka from South Sudan, for example. The five-year-old lives with his mother and siblings on the outskirts of the capital Juba. During the civil war, water points and wells were deliberately damaged and destroyed. The only alternative for the family: fetch water from a nearby river. Polluted water that can be contaminated with germs and bacteria and lead to disease.

3. Diseases spread particularly quickly without water and hygiene. Since the appearance of the coronavirus at the latest, we have also been even more aware of the fact that hygiene is extremely important in order to avoid diseases. In the poorer regions of the world in particular, polluted water from rivers is a problem – another is poor hygiene. Around two billion people do not use safe sanitary facilities. This includes, for example, a toilet that ensures that people do not come into contact with the excrement and a system that safely removes the excrement. Diseases can spread so quickly – a deadly threat to young children. Here, too, South Sudan is a cautionary example: a cholera outbreak there had claimed over 400 lives there since the summer of 2016. In the rainy season, further outbreaks threaten: floods pollute the water sources, many sanitary facilities are in poor condition – or even nonexistent.

4. „Open defecation“ is more common than you think. Practically inconceivable in this country, everyday life in many regions of the world: Around 673 million people practice bowel movements outdoors. So they do not even have a simple toilet, but relieve themselves on the roadside, in fields or in the bushes. How can you change that? Among other things through education: UNICEF not only takes care of the expansion and maintenance of the water systems or the construction of latrines in rural village communities, but also trains so-called „water committees“. The members of the committees then inform other villagers about simple hygiene practices or the risk of illness, for example. Or they check the quality of the drinking water available.

5. As always, the children are most at risk. The lack of clean water and hygiene are still the leading causes of death in children under five. More than 700 children die every day from preventable diseases such as diarrhea caused by contaminated water or poor hygiene. Hygiene is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to prevent life-threatening diseases. After the great typhoon in 2013, the children in the Philippines learned to sing „Happy Birthday“ twice while washing their hands with soap – this is exactly the right time to get rid of dangerous pathogens. An important note, because in some of the poorest regions of the world hand washing is not a matter of course. Thoroughly washing hands with soap, if done correctly, is also an important factor in the fight against the coronavirus – we have heard that over and over again over the past year. The problem: billions of people around the world don’t have constant, easy access to a place to wash their hands.

6. Countless babies are born in unsanitary conditions. According to the UN, one in four hospitals worldwide did not have running water and soap for hand washing in 2019. 21% did not have simple toilets. In such circumstances, safe births are hardly possible. And hygiene is vital around childbirth. For example, if the umbilical cord is cut with a non-sterile object, the baby can be at risk of contracting a life-threatening disease such as tetanus. The situation is particularly dramatic in emergency situations: when, for example, two severe earthquakes struck Nepal in 2015, many hospitals and birth centers were destroyed – in some regions even around 70 percent of the birth centers. UNICEF set up health stations and emergency shelters where mothers could give birth to their babies safely and under hygienic conditions.

7. Water shortage prevents schooling. When children have to walk long distances every day to fetch water for the family, they often miss the chance to go to school. This is valuable time, especially for children, in which they cannot be children and cannot learn. This is what happens to Aysha from Ethiopia, for example. This is a day in her life … In addition, if schools do not have safe drinking water and toilets, children cannot study in an appropriate environment. And girls often prefer to stay at home during their menstruation. In 2019, only about 69% of schools worldwide had basic access to drinking water, and only 66% had sanitation. Around 900 million children have no access to hygiene at their school. The African countries south of the Sahara are particularly affected.

8. Climate change makes it worse. The changing climate affects precipitation, among other things: intensity, duration and distribution over the seasons change. This in turn affects the quantity and quality of the drinking water. Overall, climate change exacerbates water scarcity and can intensify competition for limited water resources. Many people will be forced to move to other areas in the future. Extreme weather events can also damage water systems and infrastructure that children in particular need for their survival and development, such as sanitary facilities and water pipes in schools and health facilities. The global weather phenomenon El Niño has shown us in recent years what effects climate change can have. The countries of eastern and southern Africa in particular were hit with full force: Extreme drought and drought alternated with torrential rains. Where are the gloomy prognoses of climate change leading us? Around 500 million children are already living in areas that are exposed to an extremely high risk of flooding due to extreme weather events such as cyclones, hurricanes and storms as well as rising sea levels. 450 million children live in areas with high or extremely high water insecurity. By 2040, almost every fourth child in the world will be living in an area affected by extreme drought – if we don’t act soon.

9. In conflicts and crises, children are twice as likely to have no access to water. Millions of people around the world urgently need clean water in emergency situations. A particularly striking example is the civil war in Syria, which has now been going on for 10 years. The fighting has left deep marks there: the water supply has repeatedly collapsed in many places, and millions of people have been affected in recent years. UNICEF is fighting the water shortage in Syria with emergency deliveries on trucks and the construction and repair of wells and infrastructure. Every day our colleagues provide the children in the destroyed cities and refugee shelters with clean water. A particular concern is the rebuilding of permanent water supplies for schools.

10. We have to do more! The facts and figures make it clear that the world is not yet on the right track to achieve the sixth of the UN Sustainable Development Goals: „Water and sanitation for all“. UNICEF is already working at the highest political levels, calling on governments to meet their commitments to improve access to water and sanitation and to work to contain the effects of climate change. Cooperation between governments and national statistical offices should also be strengthened to improve the collection, analysis and dissemination of data. Against the background of the global water crisis, UNICEF started the „Water Security for All“ initiative in order to ensure that every child has access to a sustainable and climate-resistant water supply in the long term. The initiative aims to bundle resources, partnerships and innovations and mobilize support for the „hotspots“ where investments in water, sanitation and hygiene are most urgent. Technical developments and innovations could help, as this example from Malawi shows: UNICEF has installed a solar-powered pump in a village near the city of Blantyre, which helps the community to prepare for future emergencies. The solar pump goes deeper into the ground than a hand pump. This means that people can still access water during a drought when the water table is falling. In addition, the pump requires little maintenance and solar power is cheaper, more environmentally friendly and more sustainable than expensive diesel generators.

Swell: UNICEF Report Save the Water

World Resources Institute

Dieser Eintrag wurde veröffentlicht in Allgemein, Evke Freya von Ahlefeldt, Klimawandel, Menschenrechte am von .

Über evkefreyavonahlefeldt

Ich bin Evke Freya von Ahlefeldt, meine beiden Vornamen sind so alt wie mein Nachname. Sie gehen bis ins 12. Jahrhundert zurück. Oft werden meine Vornamen der nordischen oder niederländischen Sprache zugeordnet. Dem ist nicht so. Es sind alte germanische Namen. Früher wünschte ich mir einen "normale" Namen. Ab der Teenager Zeit fand ich meine Namen richtig cool. Meine Freunde nennen mich Evke oder im französischen Ive. Frankreich ist ein gutes Stichwort. Nach meinem Abi an einem Gymnasium in Hildesheim, wollte ich erstmal die Welt entdecken. Hildesheim zählt nicht gerade zu den Metropolen dieser Welt - auch wenn es zu den ersten größeren Besiedelungen des Germanischen Reichs gehört und auf 5700 v Chr. datiert wird, ist es nicht der Nabel der Welt. Nun reiste ich mit dem Abi in der Tasche in die große weite Welt. Mit einem Pappschild stand ich an der Bundesstraße und lies mich überraschen wohin es mich treiben / fahren wird. Da mein Reiseziel mit "Ich will weg" doch sehr weit ausgelegt werden konnte, fuhr mich der Zufall in Gestalt von einem älteren und sehr charmanten Herrn nach Dänemark zu seiner Tochter. Es ging für mich nach vier Tagen weiter nach Schweden und dann nach Olso. Von Oslo brachte mich mein Pappschild nach Trondheim. Ich erlebte die Weite und eine unglaubliche Schönheit der Natur. Ich war in Norwegen verliebt und wollte dort sogar zum studieren bleiben. Da ich für die Einschreibung an der NTNU, der Norwegian University of Science and Technology, zu spät war, blieben mir noch ein paar wunderschöne Tage in einer grandiosen Stadt. Paris ruft Jede andere hätte bei der Zusage der Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - eine Universität für Rechts- und Politikwissenschaften, Wirtschafts- und Managementwissenschaften sowie Geisteswissenschaften, einen Luftsprung gemacht - ich kaufe mir einen Joint und ein 6er Pack Bier. Da es mit den Vorstellungen meiner Zukunft und dem daraus resultierenden Studium meiner Eltern und derer meinen Vorstellung doch erhebliche Differenz gab und ich keinen Bock auf Stress, Joints und Bier in den nächsten Jahren hatte, flog ich von paradiesischen Trondheim nach Hannover. Hildesheim hat selbst nach 7700 Jahren noch keinen Flugplatz - dafür alte Rosen. Dies nur am Rande. Drei Semester waren mir an der Uni schwer gefallen. Ob es am Gras, Alkohol oder diesem unglaublich trockenen Stoff von Politik- oder Wirtschaftswissenschaften lag, mag ich jetzt nicht zu beurteilen. Irgendwie würde ich das Studium beenden und dann ab nach Norwegen. Nun lebe ich schon seit 19 Jahren in Paris. Ich zeigte damals einen guten (Wider)-Willen und irgendwann hatte meine Eltern ein Einsehen, dass man mir auch mit dem Hammer den Lehrnstoff ins Hirn hätten schlagen können, ich hätte es nicht begriffen - oder gewollt. Ob jene Einsicht an dem doch erheblichen alkoholischen Leergut, dem süßlichen Geruch in meiner Studentenbude oder dem völligen Desinteresse für dieses Studium lag, mag ich nicht zu beurteilen. So studierte ich an der gleichen Uni dann Kunst und Archäologie. Ich schaffe sogar ohne Gras und Alkohol (manchmal) meinen Master Abschluss. An der Uni drückte mir jemand einen Flyer von "Action contre la faim" (Aktion gegen den Hunger) in die Hand und ich wurde auf diese Truppe neugierig. So klopfte ich ein paar Tage später bei denen an die Tür und wir waren sofort auf einer Wellenlänge. Zwei Wochen später engagierte ich mich ehrenamtliche bei der coolen Gruppe. Nach dem Studium arbeitete ich als Kunstrestauratorin und mir gefiel diese Arbeit. Die Mischung aus Geschichte, Archäologie und Kunst war und ist faszinierend. Neben der Arbeit brachte ich mich bei Action contre la faim immer mehr ein und war auch mit einer Gruppe im Sudan, Kongo und Mali im Einsatz für humanitäre Hilfe. Durch Zufall las ich 2010 eine Stellenanzeige von UNICEF Paris. Noch während des Vorstellungsgespräch kündigte ich telefonisch meinen Job. UNICEF ist eine andere Welt Durch meine Erfahrung bei Action contre la faim konnte ich die neuen Aufgaben verknüpfen und sogar verbinden. Schließlich arbeiten wir alle für das gleiche Ziel. Bei UNICEF lag und liegt mein Einsatzgebiet in so gut wie allen Ländern westlich der Sahara. 2015 wurde mir die Leitung vom UNICEF Büro in Paris übertragen und so konnte und kann ich mit meinen ehemaligen Kollegen von Action contre la faim noch enger zusammenarbeiten. Das Wirtschaftsstudium hatte doch ein paar Vorteile. Wir sind in Paris 15 Mitarbeiter_innen und planen, organisieren alles um Hilfsprojeke von der UN / UNECA ( UN -Wirtschaftskommission für Afrika), für UNICEF, UNHCR oder andere Unterorganisationen. Dies hört sich jetzt alles sehr spektakulär und fantastisch an - ist es nicht! Die Realität ist gefährlich, erschütternd und oft ein Alptraum. Um irgendwie selbst psychisch damit klar zukommen, nehme ich mir die Auszeit um mit meinem Pferd einen oder mehrere Tage im Nirgendwo zu sein. Evke Freya von Ahlefeldt, Paris, 12. Juli 2021

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