Water is predicted to be the primary medium through which early climate
change impacts will be felt by people, ecosystems and economies. Both
observational records and climate projections provide strong evidence
that freshwater resources are vulnerable, and have the potential to be
strongly impacted. However, impacts on water resources and
water-dependent services have yet to be adequately addressed in either
scientific analyses or water policy.
This report aims to fill in some of the gaps. No new research is
presented; rather the aim is to pull together what we know about the
links between climate change and water, drawing on both the scientific
and non-scientific literature, for an informed but non-specialist
audience. Commissioned by WaterAid in the UK, the report has two broad
- To summarise current understanding of climate change projections and
scenarios, and the impacts climate change may have on water resources,
and water supply, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in Sub-Saharan Africa
(SSA) and South Asia.
- To discuss implications of the above for policy and practice at a
range of different levels – from funding for climate change adaptation
at an international level, to the planning and implementation of WASH
interventions at a community level.
It is important to note the marked absence of literature on climate
change and sanitation. As such, this report has largely focused on water
resources and water supply. A key conclusion is that more research is
required to better understand the impacts of climate change on existing
sanitation systems and to identify effective responses to current and
future climate change.
The report is intended for a broad range of decision-makers in
government, the donor community, civil society organisations and the
Calow, R.; Bonsor, H.; Jones, L.; O’Meally, S. O.; MacDonald, A.; Kaur, N. Climate change, water resources and WASH. A scoping study. ODI Working Paper 337 ODI, London, UK/British Geological Survey, Nottingham, UK (2011) 58 pp. ISBN 978 1 907288 50 0