Leave No One Behind – World Water Day

Today is World Water Day. This years focus for tackling the global water crisis is addressing why so many people are being left behind in the plight to ensure equitable access to safe water for all.

‘Whoever you are,
wherever you are,
water is your human right’.
http://www.worldwaterday.org

In 2010 the UN recognised access to clean drinking water a human right, ‘essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights’. Today there remains billions of people living without safe water in their homes, schools, workplaces just among a few. Marginalised groups such as women, children, elderly, disabled, refugees and indigenous people are often overlooked and face discrimination trying to access safe water. The hard reality – people are struggling to survive, unable to escape the poverty trap and live prosperous lives to their full potential.

Access to a safe water source underpins public health and wellbeing, and is therefore critical to sustainable development and a secure and thriving global population. The UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 6 – Safe Water and Sanitation – is clear with its primary target, ‘Water for all by 2030’. By definition and in principle of sustainable development progress benefiting everyone – this means leaving no one behind. Access to water underpins health and wellbeing and is therefore critical to sustainable development and paving the way for a stable and prosperous world.

We cannot progress as a global society while so many are living without safe water. Although some progress has been made across Africa, there remains approximately only 30% of rural populations with an improved water source within a 30-minute trip from their house. There are a multitude of reasons for people being left behind in access to safe water, from gender, ethnicity, religion, forced displacement to economic and social status to environmental degradation and climate change. Many rely on unprotected sources, open to contamination. The lack of safe water is amongst the biggest drivers of death and disease across the African continent.

To ‘leave no one behind’, there must be increased focused to include marginalised communities and societal groups discriminated against. Water services must meet their needs, and to ensure efforts are implemented sustainably, they must be included in decision-making processes.

One of the main types of projects CO2balance implement are safe water projects. Households that lack a clean, safe water source are forced to collect water from unsafe sources. As a result they must purify that unclean water to make it safe for consumption, boiling it on open, inefficient fires which require large amounts of firewood.

By repairing broken safe water sources within communities we provide thousands of people with a safe water source, and offset emissions by removing the need to boil the water.

Our projects follow a stringent ‘inclusive’ design process to maximize participation of the local stakeholders, with emphasis for reaching and involving women in the project design and decision-making processes.

We implement projects in marginalised areas, reaching communities and specifically women who are isolated from developmental progress, unable to access improved technologies and information of such. We currently have established safe water projects in Ethiopia, Uganda, Malawi, Eritrea, Kenya with projects being established in Zambia and Mozambique.


Catastrophic Cyclone Idai


Considered one of the most severe tropical cyclones to hit the Southern Hemisphere, Tropical Cyclone Idai made landfall at the port city of Biera, Mozambique on Thursday 14th March. Winds were reported to have exceeded 177km/h (106mph), leaving a trail of devastation as it moved inland. In its wake, Idai devastated critical infrastructure in the provinces of Sofala, Zambezia, Manica and Tete, including electricity, communication and road networks.

Many of the severely affected areas are inaccessible, cut off by extensive flooding and destroyed or disrupted transport routes, leaving hundreds of thousands of cyclone victims isolated from emergency relief efforts. Many of these inaccessible areas are uncontactable, although where contact has been made it is reported food, water and supplies are coming to the end, with only a few days worth remaining.

We are currently working on establishing safe water projects in Manica Province with not-for-profit organisation Village Water, who are currently in Mozambique on the ground working tirelessly assisting with local relief efforts and ensuring their teams on the ground are safe. The official death roll is currently at 300, although it could rise to above 1,000, with 217 confirmed in Mozambique. There are a reported 15,000 people still in need of rescue, it is unknown how many amongst these are accounted for or missing. According to our local partners working the project area, in Chimoio town in Manica Province there are 1600 now homeless people camping in 3 schools as houses have been destroyed, whilst 2km outside of the town people remain stuck in trees as the rain continues and roads and bridges have been swept away. Dombe has been severely hit with virtually impossible road access and no communications, with 50 people reported dead already.

Access into rural communities remains incredibly difficult and our rehabilitation efforts are likely to be delayed. Yet, unfortunately, following this disaster an increasing number of people are now without access to safe water as fully working safe water sources have now been swept away.

More than ever, the provision of clean water in the disaster-stricken regions is vital. From standing flood water, high numbers of unrecovered causalities and pollution from destroyed infrastructure and vehicles, water-borne diseases will be rife and ground water supplies contaminated. Affected people are reported to be drinking unchlorinated well water due to the lack of safe, accessible options. The entire populations of affected areas are vulnerable within a disaster like this, although the young, pregnant and old are more susceptible to the associated risks, making the provision of safe water essential.

As extensive flooding continues, and more rain expected over the coming days, our thoughts are with those most affected, relief workers and members of society donating their time and energy to help the devastated regions. There is likely to be a long road ahead to recovery in Mozambique, and CO2balance are committed to continuing our efforts to provide safe water in Manica Province.