Urgent improvements in water security needed to achieve climate resilience

Research led by Dr Katrina Charles, Sloane Robinson Fellow (Environmental Change) at Reuben College, has led to the publication of a report urging action to protect global water security from the impacts of climate and climate change. The REACH Water Security for Climate Resilience Report presents a synthesis of REACH’s six years of interdisciplinary research on water security from across Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, highlighting the critical role that water security has in building climate resilience. 

The report provides evidence that demonstrates the unequal impact of climate on water security, and on people’s lives and livelihoods, which can be counter-intuitive to broad narratives around resilience and adaptation. It says that while the immediate impacts of droughts and floods rightly grab headlines, climate change is also impacting societies in more subtle and less visible ways – such as impacts on female empowerment and on education.

The report also makes specific recommendations to improve water security for climate resilience in three areas:

  • More accurate and granular analysis of climate risk is needed to make climate information relevant to specific users
  • Metrics for monitoring climate resilience in water systems are critical to track progress and inform investments for water security
  • New institutional models that improve water security will be critical for climate resilience

Dr Katrina Charles is co-director of REACH and co-author of the report. She said, “Our research shows how climate change is likely to affect water supplies in different ways, in different places, and what that means for different people. Climate change will increasingly affect water availability and quality, with devastating consequences for the most vulnerable. It is vital that governments and others understand the importance of climate resilience measures that reflect particular geographies, and take action now.”


Working in Bangladesh, Kenya and Ethiopia, the REACH programme is led by the University of Oxford and funded by UK Aid Direct from the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO). This report is based on six years of research developed in collaboration with research teams in these countries. UNICEF at the global, regional and country levels is a key partner supporting uptake of the research, in collaboration with national governments and their relevant ministries.

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