“This year’s El Nino may become the starkest warning yet of the humanitarian consequences faced by poor and vulnerable people worldwide who lack the tools to cope in a changing climate”
Wolfgang Jamann, CEO and secretary general of CARE International
Water is a finite resource, unequally shared and often poorly protected and unskillfully managed. So perhaps the most vital ‘tools’ for coping with climate change are the ones dedicated to ensuring safe, reliable supplies of clean water.
World Health Organisation (WHO) records for June 2015 show that a powerful global effort has given 91% of people more equitable, if not totally reliable access to a safer, cleaner ‘improved source’ of water. However, 662 million of us still rely on sources that quickly become scant and contaminated in a crisis.
Since August 2015, fierce El Nino driven drought and frosts have ravaged the Papua New Guinea (PNG) highlands, decimating staple crops, emptying waterways and forcing hundreds of thousands of villagers to migrate to lowland regions in search of sustenance.
All the catastrophic diseases linked to water starved environmental crises are rife – typhoid, malaria, dysentery, leprosy and cholera. Many hospitals and health centres lack the most basic infrastructure essential for providing clean water. Women and girls, who are primarily responsible for water gathering, walk for hours every day to collect scarce supplies.
The damage wrought by this El Nino event will destroy the lives and livelihoods of around 2.5 million people in PNG alone. Its immediate effects will continue until at least March 2016. Aid agencies predict that the cataclysmic effects on food and water security and the long term impoverishment of communities will be worse than the 1997 El Nino event, that killed 7% of Papuans.
CARE has provided emergency response and long term development support in remote PNG communities for almost 30 years. Water management and sanitation projects are at the heart of what they do, along with reproductive and maternal health initiatives and economic empowerment for women.
When it comes to making a difference to vulnerable communities, CARE is there for the long haul, and so are we.
We give 1% of our profits to support CARE Australia’s extraordinary and inspiring work, and we’re also funding water treatment kits for 24 drought devastated families.
Please help if you can – $20 gives a family a hygiene and water kit, $60 can help provide protein such as fish for a family of five for one month.
We’d like to thank Anna from CARE Australia for providing the image and to acknowledge their photographer,
Image source: © Tom Greenwood/CARE