World Water Day. Water and Climate Change 


22nd March, 2020

Water for Women announces $1.2 million commitment to further WASH innovation and impact on World Water Day

Read our full announcement


Water. A most precious resource. 

We all need water to survive, as do all the systems we rely on: agriculture, healthcare, business and industry. We all need water to survive, as do all the systems we rely on: sanitation, healthcare, education, agriculture, business and industry. Around the world, extreme weather events are impacting water security. 

Today, 1 in 3 people – around 2.2 billion – live without safe drinking water. We must use water more equitably. We must balance all of society’s water needs while ensuring the most vulnerable don’t get left behind. 

Climate change primarily impacts through the water cycle with elevated temperatures, increasing variability and unpredictability of water resources and slow onset and extreme weather events. These will have significant effects on human development and security.

That is why Australia supports socially inclusive and sustainable water initiatives in the Indo-Pacific, because they have a profound and lasting impact on communities and sustainable and efficient use of water is critical in building resilience to climate change. 

Water and Climate Change: Women have a role to play

Read our latest discussion reflecting on the vital role of women and a new approach required to address the great challenge of climate change and resilience in the WASH sector.

Water plays a fundamental role in healthy communities and families, and water security is intrinsically linked to a changing climate. The increasing frequency of floods, severe storms and drought is playing havoc with waterways and crops and is affecting the food security and livelihoods of millions of people. 

“Women and marginalised people are the most vulnerable to these climate change impacts, and they are therefore in strong positions to contribute to sustainable solutions to these challenges,” says Dr Alison Baker, Water for Women Fund Manager. “We see a very clear link between empowering women and tackling climate change, and WASH interventions are an important entry point to gender equality.”

From water flows life

Our partners are working tirelessly with communities to support sustainable and equitable access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), we are also undertaking research to enhance learning and build evidence for gender and socially inclusive research, analysis, design and program delivery in WASH.

They have been sharing their updates to celebrate International Women's Day and World Water Day.

World Water Day postcard of women from Indonesia

In the age of increased climate insecurity, we must listen to the voices of the marginalised

Grandma Ne, that’s what people call her.

Her real name is Kornelia, she is 68 years old and living by herself in Wae Codi Village, Manggarai district, Indonesia.

One of Grandma Ne’s biggest struggles is collecting water. During the dry season, she needs to make a minimum of two round trips each day to collect enough water to meet her daily needs. Each trip takes around an hour on a difficult and steep mountainside path. She must carry two jerry cans each trip and when full, they are heavy, which is hard for a slight, 68 year old with a hand disability to manage. In wet season, things are even more difficult.

Water for Women recognises that the voices of the marginalised need to be centered in WASH programs to ensure they are not left behind, as they are often the ones that facing the greatest set of challenges. Rising climate change hazards will only increase these challenges.

Read more

Smiling Fijian woman outside her home

"Adaptation starts with me"

In Fiji, our partner Habitat for Humanity’s project, Strengthening community resilience and inclusion through Improved WASH services is mobilising men, women and youth to find solutions together that will assist their communities in combatting climate change impacts on their water supply.

Fiji is at risk of increasing frequency and severity of both drought and floods, severe storms and cyclones all of which heavily impact the water security, agriculture, livelihoods and community stability that Fijians rely upon.

Vika, who has a daughter with a mental disability who requires additional care and attention, knows all too well how difficult things can get during and after natural disasters, “women in our community face more difficulties with incomplete daily chores, inaccessible water supply and with a daughter with a disability, I often have an increased burden of care aside from daily household duties.”

Read more

Young woman from Bangladesh in a wheelchair smiles at the camera

In Bangladesh, our partner, World Vision has incorporated a GSI approach into their SHOMOTA project which has seen the team work on engaging with communities on therights of people with disabilities and connect with people with disabilities to ensure their voice is heard in the WASH planning and delivery process.

That is how they met Shewly...

Read more

Group of women and children standing outside in discussion

Share, care and get aware

In Pakistan, women-inclusive WASH Jirgas (IWJs) are ensuring that women are finally part of the decision-making process about their WASH needs and proving valuable mobilisers within their communities.

Read more



More stories from our partners


Group of people holding hands in a circle, some smile at camera

Leadership for change in Bhutan

In Bhutan, SNV are trialling a first-of-its-kind leadership for change initiative in the WASH sector, engaging with stakeholders from several rights-based organisations in the country, with particular attention to women Disabled Persons Organisation leaders.

Bringing this diverse group of voices to the table in WASH planning for communities will further enhance the projects strategic engagement within the sector to pave way for gender and socially inclusive WASH in Bhutan and that is something we are excited to see!

Woman sits on wooden stairs

Focusing on 'the last mile' in Vietnam

Women like Nguyen Thi Phuong Nhung (picutred) are part of the solution.

Nhung is a Senior Officer with Vietnam Women’s Union, she has spent the last 10 years collaborating with Thrive, including most recently on their Women-led Output based Aid program as the focal point and representative for the GESI Taskforce established by Thrive.

“I understand that improving women’s access to water and sanitation is one of the most effective ways to achieve gender equality. Reduced household workload, most of which involves water and sanitation-related tasks, means increased opportunities for women to thrive in their personal, professional as well as social life.”

We couldn’t agree more Nhung and thank you for all your hard work.

Man in wheelchair speaks to audience at exhibition opening

Understanding perspectives through photo voice in Vanuatu

Nineteen year old James is a passionate advocate for people with disabilities, whose voices all too often go unheard when it comes to accessible water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) needs.

World Vision and research partner London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine recently undertook a study in Vanuatu that found that people with a disability are 10 times more likely to struggle with accessing water than someone without a disability.

Through Laetem Dak Kona, James opened Vanuatu’s first ever 'Water, Women and Disability photo exhibition'. James spoke passionately of the importance of disability rights and accessibility in Vanuatu.

He feels lucky to have been supported, educated and empowered all his life to know his rights, but that is not the experience of all people with a disability, and that is something we must change.


“Thank you for helping our neighbourhood become better for the future!”

Australia is committed to supporting socially inclusive and sustainable water initiatives in Indonesia.

We are working with Monash University and Emory University in a first-of-its-kind action-research program whose work is driven by the interlinkages between climate change and urbanisation.

This film captures their work in Bonelengga settlement in Makassar, Indonesia, to plan water and sanitation infrastructure for their neighbourhood.

The much-loved design workshops are called PANRITA, a shortening of ‘PerencanaAN RI kampung TA’, meaning ‘planning in your neighbourhood’, based on a local tradition where a craftsperson works with a community to design and build in a holistic way with their environment.

Working in partnership with communities and stakeholders, the RISE program is planning and providing infrastructure to enable access to essential water services and greater resilience to the effects of climate change: ‘green technology’ infrastructure integrates into buildings and landscapes creating ‘nature-based solutions’, this infrastructure mimics the earth’s natural systems to treat and clean water, making it more ecologically and economically sustainable.

Group of children and women filling up water buckets at a tap

Community Management Committees helping the marginalised in India 

In Swami Basti, an established settlement in the heart of Jaipur, India, CFAR’s Community Management Committee (CMC), established as part of the their project, is ensuring we reach the last 12% of households that still do not have a water supply.

Often women from these households face the triple burden of being caregivers, homemakers and breadwinners.

With the help of the CMC, their needs are being addressed by engaging with local government to ensure that WASH services in the settlement are strengthened, sustainable and solutions are designed to suit all within the community, not just a few.  

Indian woman holding a water filter device

Women-led self help groups are drinking water champions!

RTI Internatonal are creating a community-led business model whereby women-led Self-Help Groups are now acting as a WASH demand generator and retail arm of private sector entities to strengthen access to safe water, empower women to be part of the solution and earn an income too.

In Rasulgarh Sabar Sahi, women are now earning a share of proceeds against sales of this water purifier which not only helps household’s access safe drinking water; but also empowers these women within their own households, as decision influencers, and within their communities, as drinking water champions!



COVID-19 highlights the importance of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and protecting the most vulnerable within our communities. It also underlines the importance of the work being carried out by our partners. Hygiene, including handwashing with soap is essential to reduce transmission of microbes including viruses such as COVID-19.  Without safe water in ready supply, appropriate sanitation and hygiene practices to reduce disease are very difficult, even impossible. WASH does and will continue to play a critical role in keeping communities safe and healthy. 

  Cover photo by Plan Indonesia/Agus Har

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