An Analysis of the Vulnerability of Global Drinking Water Access to Climate-related Hazards

Global drinking water access targets are formulated around “sustainable access.” Global climate change (GCC) and associated hazards threaten the sustainability of drinking water supply. Extensive literature exists on the impacts of GCC on precipitation and water resources. However, the literature lacks a credible analysis of the vulnerability of global drinking water access. This research reports on an analysis of the current vulnerability of drinking water access due to three climate-related hazardous events: cyclone, drought and flood. An ArcGIS database was built incorporating the following: population density, hazardous event frequency, drinking water technologies in use and adaptive capacity. Two global grids were incorporated first: (1) LandScanTM global population distribution; and (2) frequency of cyclone, drought and flood from ~1980-2000 from Columbia University Center for Hazards Risk Research (CHRR). Population density was used to characterize cells as urban or rural and country-level urban/rural drinking water technologies in use were added based on the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme data. Expert assessment of the resilience of each technology to each hazardous event based on WHO/DFID Vision 2030 were quantified and added to the database. Finally, country-level adaptive capacity was drawn from the “readiness” parameter of the Global Adaptation Index (GaIn). ArcGIS Model Builder and Python were used to automate the addition of datasets. This presentation will report on the results of this analysis, the first credible attempt to assess the vulnerability of global drinking water access to climate-related hazardous events. This analysis has yielded country-level scores and maps displaying the ranking of exposure score (for flood, drought, cyclone, and all three in aggregate) and the corresponding country-level vulnerability scores and rankings incorporating the impact of drinking water technologies and adaptive capacity (Figure 1).

An Analysis of the Vulnerability of Global Drinking Water Access to Climate-related Hazards. M. Elliott, O. Banerjee, E. Christenson, D. Holcomb, L. Hamrick, J. Bartram. 2014. AGU Fall Meeting Abstracts 15, H52E-01.