Back to all
Together for implementation: A Photostory about Climate Justice & Health for All
Clean air, safe drinking water, sufficient food and secure shelter. Climate change is a key factor in achieving health for all. Indeed, between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause 250 000 additional deaths per year from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea, and heat stress. WHO estimates that the direct costs to health will be between US$ 2–4 billion per year by 2030. Household and ambient air pollution cause 7 million premature deaths per year.
Health infrastructure in low-and middle-income countries are most at risk from climate change, and need assistance to prepare and respond to it. Lower-income populations are largely uninsured. Health shocks and stresses already push around 100 million people into poverty every year, a number that increases with the impacts of climate change.
WHO supports countries to build climate-resilient health systems and track national progress in protecting people’s health from climate change, as well as in assessing the health gains that would result from the implementation of the existing Nationally Determined Contributions to the Paris Agreement, and the potential for larger gains from more ambitious climate action.
During the COP27 UN climate change conference in Sharm El-Sheikh, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) will ensure health and equity are placed at the center of the climate negotiations. It will offer a rich two-week programme of events showcasing evidence, initiatives and solutions to maximize the health benefits of tackling climate change across regions, sectors and communities.
Now is the time for action on the ground. It is therefore incumbent upon us all to move rapidly towards full, timely, inclusive, and at-scale action on the ground.
With this new photostory, we put a spotlight on the communities who need it most.
© WHO / Billy Miaron
“We are struggling. We are barely eating anything because we can’t afford to buy enough food,” says Lerren Lekale, a camel herder from Marsabit county in northern Kenya. “The drought is ruining our lives. I have a wife and three children whom I rarely see any more because I am moving the camels to keep them alive,” he adds. “I had nine cows and five have already died. It is now the turn of the camels to die. If they die, we die too.”
Pastoralists in the region say that they have lost close to 70% of their livestock due to the drought, and they are desperate to find both water and pasture for their livestock.
Millions in the greater Horn of Africa are experiencing severe hunger as the region faces one of the worst droughts in recent decades. Many people have left their homes in search of food and water, and pasture for animals. Large-scale displacement is often accompanied by a deterioration in hygiene and sanitation. Outbreaks of infectious diseases are a major concern, especially when combined with low existing vaccination coverage and health service availability.
As people become increasingly food insecure, they also must make the impossible choice between food and healthcare, even as nutritional deficiencies make them increasingly vulnerable to disease. This is particularly true for children, for whom the combination of malnutrition and disease can prove fatal.
WHO and partners are working to counter the consequences of malnutrition, respond to disease outbreaks, and ensure that essential health services can continue.
© WHO / Billy Miaron
Access to water is equally challenging. As the natural springs dry up, water must be rationed between people and livestock.
Pictured in September 2022, Elama Bayo (centre) tries to help manage the water fetching process at Hula Hula Springs in Marsabit County, Kenya. With the ongoing drought in Marsabit, the spring is the only available water source for the whole community.
“The situation is getting out of hand. I have never seen a difficult moment like this one. This spring has been a reliable source of water for all of us, but now, we are in big trouble. It produces so little water,” says Elama, a member of the community who manages access to the Hulahula Spring in Saku Village. “People arrive here from 5:00 AM and many will go back home without water. They will come back tomorrow but there is no guarantee that they will get it. It is chaotic. I pray every day that no one gets hurt. We try our best to ration the water between people and livestock. We need to help in trucking additional water in from elsewhere to fill up the tanks.”
© WHO / Mobeen Ansari
Imaad, a resident of Shabara village in Charsadda district, wades through floodwaters to bring food to his cattle on 31 August 2022.
Catastrophic floods in Pakistan in August 2022 killed some 1,400 people, destroyed more than half a million homes and displaced over 660,000 people into camps. Many more people are displaced in host communities. More than 750,000 livestock – a critical source of income for many families – died after the rainfall, which in August was more than five times the national 30-year average in some parts of Pakistan. Some 33 million people have been affected, and access to many vulnerable communities was cut off as hundreds of bridges and thousands of kilometers of roads were destroyed or washed away.
WHO is supporting the Government of Pakistan to respond by delivering supplies needed by health facilities and increasing disease monitoring to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.
© WHO / Mobeen Ansari
Children whose home was damaged by the flooding play in a stream in Madyan in Pakistan’s Swat valley in September 2022.
© WHO / Henitsoa Rafalia
These Analamanga residents had to clean up debris left behind after tropical cyclone Batsirai swept away their home on 5 February 2022. Since January 2022, multiple extreme weather events have damaged homes and public infrastructure in Madagascar, resulted in the death of over 200 people, and left over 650,000 people without access to health care.
WHO has been working with national health authorities and partners to respond, including by delivering essential medical supplies and sending experts to the affected areas.
As the WHO Foundation continues to harness the power of collaboration and partnerships to raise funds and to support WHO and its team members on the ground, we are eager to cooperate through various initiatives. Climate and health, emergency response, and preparedness are some of our key areas of work. We actively support WHO’s emergency work, through our Health Emergencies Alliance, the Ukraine health emergency appeal, the Sahel & Horn of Africa health emergency appeal or the COVID-19 response.
To get involved and partner with the WHO Foundation, please learn more on our website or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.