ACROSS the world 663 million people still do not have access to water; the vast majority of them - over half a billion - live in rural areas.
Papua New Guinea, Madagascar and Mozambique are among the worst performing countries in the world for rural access to clean water.
In PNG, over two thirds of the rural population – 67% - live without access to clean water, while Madagascar and Mozambique follow closely behind, with 65% and 63% of their rural populations without clean water, respectively.
All three countries rank in the top 20% of nations worldwide most vulnerable to climate change and least ready to adapt, according to the Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index.
Papua New Guinea – home to 7.2 million people – already experiences cyclones, river flooding, coastal erosion and droughts, among other natural disasters.
The annual rainy season is often followed by drought, making food and water shortages commonplace. Just last year, the World Food Program estimated there were nearly 80,000 people affected.
With global temperatures projected to rise, this could have dire consequences for the 87% of the country’s population living in rural areas – two-thirds of which lives without access to clean water. El Niño will compound these challenges, making matters even worse.
Sandra Gaudi lives with her husband and four children on the Air Transport Squadronsettlement on the outskirts of Port Moresby. Sandra and her family collect water from a communal tap.
She says, “The water can shut down any time, so you have to make it a priority. You make sure you have it before you do anything else.”
Sometimes, especially when the water pressure is low, there are big queues – a growing problem, as a rising population means greater demand for water.
When drought hits, Sandra struggles to find enough water to prepare food, wash dishes or clean clothes.
“When things were really bad, we couldn’t wash our clothes,” she says, “We’d just wipe our faces instead of having a shower.”
The lack of water also affected the family diet as Sandra was unable to prepare food as normal. Often, they would eat just breakfast and dinner, or packaged snacks, as they didn’t have enough water to prepare a proper meal. “It was a very stressful time to be a mother,” says Sandra.
Top 5 countries with greatest percentage
of rural population without clean water
1 Angola 71.8%
2 Democratic Republic of Congo 68.8%
3 Equatorial Guinea 68.5%
4 Papua New Guinea 67.2%
5 Madagascar 64.7%