Water is the primary medium through which we feel the effects of climate change. Water and weather, the delicate balance between evaporation and precipitation, is the primary cycle through which climate change is felt.
Climate change impacts will have direct consequences for water security. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) alerted the global community to the great vulnerability of freshwater resources as a result of climate change.
Impacts on water:
- Climate change affects availability and distribution of rainfall, snowmelt, river flows and groundwater, and further deteriorate water quality.
- It will also impact health and food security and have already proven to trigger refugee dynamics and political instability.
- Water availability is becoming less predictable in many places,
- Extreme weather events have resulted in,
- increased incidences of flooding
- droughts are exacerbating water scarcity.
- Over the last 25 years, floods, droughts and other weather-related events have caused more than 90 per cent of major weather-related disasters.
- Around 500 million children now live in areas at extremely high risk of flooding due to weather events such as cyclones, hurricanes and storms, as well as rising sea levels.
- When disasters hit, they can destroy or contaminate entire water supplies, increasing the risk of diseases like cholera and typhoid.
- Rising temperatures can lead to deadly pathogens in freshwater sources, making the water dangerous for people to drink.
- Climate change exacerbates water stress – areas of extremely limited water resources – leading to increased competition for water, even conflict.
Steps to mitigate the challenge:
- An integrated view on water, the biosphere and environmental flows is required to devise sustainable agricultural and economic systems that will allow us to decelerate climate change, protect us from extremes and to adapt to the unavoidable at the same time.
- Nature-based solutionssuch as mangroves protecting shorelines from storms, lakes storing large water supplies and floodplains absorbing excess water runoff, are a key part of this strategy. These natural services perform an infrastructure-like function.
- India has three programmes related to water protection, availability and conservation.
- Jal jeevan mission
- Jal shakthi abhiyan
- Atal Bhujal yojana. All of them should be made sustainable, climate resilient and adaptive.
- Climate change adaptationwill have to build climate resilience.
- Climate resilienceis strengthened through healthy ecosystem services that rely on well-functioning river basins.
- Effective country-driven climate change adaptationshould reflect the importance of water management in reducing vulnerability and building climate resilience.
- Water cooperation helps to reduce the risk of conflict within communities and among countries.
- Putting adaptive Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) at the centre of planning and investment for climate change adaptation.
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