I met Sebenele, a bright 14 year-old boy with a big smile, this week during a visit to Swaziland to see how my fund is helping UNICEF to support and protect children living with HIV. Swaziland has the highest rate of HIV infection in the world. Twenty-four per cent of children here have lost one or both parents to AIDS and many are themselves now living with HIV. I thought about my own children and how in many ways the things Sebenele enjoys are the same things they do. Yet he told me how he is struggling to continue to take his antiretroviral medicine, which is vital to ensure he stays healthy, because he can't keep the pills down without any food.
We need to get different sectors talking. Climate change and water are intertwined and we need to speak each other's language when it comes to planning and funding adaptation efforts. We can no longer have countries develop water policies that don't include climate risks, nor can climate planners operate without consulting key water ministries.
During this trip I truly learnt to appreciate the many blessings we have, from the birds singing and flying around, to the green grass and pastures, to the feel and look of fresh water and the sound of rain dropping, even the dark clouds that comes full of rain, which the people of the Horn of Africa are now praying for that will bring them a renewed hope of life. We have to remember that water is indeed life.
The complexities of this crisis go beyond the very real human need I saw playing out in Fedeto. Were it faced with this drought alone, the Government of Ethiopia would have a heady, but manageable task. Sadly, all indications of the climate change trajectory suggest that this is not an isolated case of drought, but rather the paradigm for what is yet to come.
Since we marked the first UN-declared World Water Day in 1993, the world has made incredible progress. Yet there remain more than 650million people in the world without access to clean water, who are faced with a daily struggle involving long dangerous walks or expensive black-market vendors, just to get water that is likely neither clean nor safe to drink.
Most of us remember the image of thousands of Ethiopians starving during the famine of 1984/85, the luckier ones seemingly fed only by the power of the Western media to incite compassion and belated action from international agencies. On a recent visit to the country, I heard how the weather conditions now are as bad as during that terrible disaster...
We'd like to do a lot more to beat this crisis but we also want to stop future generations being devastated by drought. Around 70% of Africa's people depend on smallholder agriculture for a living and they produce the bulk of the continent's food. We have to find a way to help them survive major crisis - come rain or shine.
At first it sounds impossible, but it's not. People do it all over the world for days and even weeks on end. I remember vividly the second week living with my host family in Nicaragua. We had a big orange carton called a "pichinga" which we filled up with water from the well at the bottom of our garden and purified with a chlorine tablet. Occasionally we would have running water from a tap to be purified.
Greener than many of its neighbours, and home to both the highest mountain range in Africa and the source of the mighty Nile, Winston Churchill famously described Uganda as the 'Pearl of Africa'. Unlike much of the country, however, due to its harsh climate and low annual rainfall, the Karamoja region is predominantly a semi-arid plain - causing many problems for the communities who live there.
The obvious waste of an ice-bucket dunking is in poor taste given that São Paulo is suffering a severe drought at present. In parts of the state, the reservoirs are dry and cracked and all non-essential water use is banned. Where I live things are not quite so bad, but the local papers warn week after week that we are also on the cusp of extreme rationing.
Climate change impacts everything, everywhere. It threatens to undo everything that conservation organizations like WWF have achieved over the last half-century. Both people and the natural world are feeling the effects, which are consequential and growing. Extreme weather impacts fragile ecosystems that people depend on for food and their livelihoods.
During the tourist season, Majorca needs to import water transferred by tankers from the mainland to meet demand from its 2 million visitors. The Travel Foundation explains an increase in the occurrence of droughts is now putting added pressure on popular tourist destinations such as the Caribbean islands.
By showing strong leadership and committing its fair share of new money to the Green Climate Fund to help children adapt to the effects of climate change, the UK Government can make sure children everywhere have enough nutritious food to eat, grow up to fulfil their potential and do not pay for our past mistakes with their futures.
Mali, along with several of its neighbouring countries in the Sahel region of West Africa, remains in a state of crisis. The rebel threat has not gone away, despite their withdrawal from strategic towns, and the recent fighting has increased tensions between different ethnic groups, some of whom have been associated with the rebels' cause.
From droughts to floods, Britain has been baked and battered with some seriously weird weather in 2012. Ushered in with snow, January lived up to ...