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Why World Water Day Matters To Me, and To You
Corinne Hickey, Co-Founder of www.friendsofwater.com
I cried this morning while taking a shower. It came on unexpectedly on a sunny spring morning in the beautiful Pacific Northwest of North America. Slowly I was saddened and then the tears came, strangely mixed with my bio-degradable soap. This was not the typical cry over a small personal problem. I cried for the 3000 human beings who would die today from diarrhoeal diseases (including cholera); 90% of them children under 5. I cried for their parents who are amongst 2.6 billion (42% of the world population) who lack access to basic sanitation. I wept for the 1.1 billion people who lack access to improved water sources (tap water in the house or yard from public distribution systems, protected wells and springs, public stand posts, rain water collection), who represent 17% of the global population. In wet grief I turned off my shower of clean, uncontaminated filtered water. I said a prayer of gratitude for the water I celebrate in my life, and asked that all of the world community have pure and accessible water forever and forever.
In many parts of the world, such as Europe and North America, people take it for granted to turn on a tap for safe and clean water to drink, to cook, to wash – yet, more than 1 billion of our fellow human beings have little choice but to use potentially harmful sources of water. Each year, March 22 – World Water Day – marks a permanent effort to promote access to safe drinking-water and sanitation. It is a springboard for me and you to raise awareness about water, to stimulate debate and focus on the dangers that derive from inadequate access to safe water and basic sanitation. It also is an opportunity for us to consciously reflect on our own water consumption, conservation, and purification. Water is the world’s resource, not mine or yours. What I do with water in the
effects others’ worldwide. If I conserve and purify my tap water then more water will return back into the larger ecosystem, becoming rain and snow and again returning to earth.
'Coping with Water Scarcity' is the theme for World Water Day 2007. It is a theme you and I need to take seriously. Although sub-Saharan drought may seem distant to us where we live, it is right around the corner in every sense. Many of our subscribers to The Waterfall live in countries around the world; some work for environmental agencies. You know first hand the reality of our dwindling water supplies. We also know that each of us can take action every day to conserve and purify our water.
This year's (2007) World Water Day theme highlights the increasing significance of water scarcity worldwide and the need for increased integration and cooperation to ensure sustainable, efficient and equitable management of scarce water resources, both at international and local levels. Equity and rights, cultural and ethical issues are essential to be addressed when dealing with limited water resources. Imbalances between availability and demand, the degradation of groundwater and surface water quality, intersectoral competition, interregional and international disputes, all center around the question of how to cope with scarce water resources. (1)
The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed the 10-year period of 2005–2015 as the UN International Decade for Action Water for Life 2005–2015, starting on 22 March, World Water Day 2005. The Water for Life Decade gives the world’s goals a greater focus on water-related issues, while striving to ensure the participation of women in water-related development efforts, and further cooperation at all levels. The Decade offers an opportunity for revitalizing political commitment, but it also provides a unique chance to launch a provocative worldwide advocacy effort to catalyse greater public participation in the Water For Life global campaign.
Celebrating World Water Day
It is worthwhile to reflect on the following questions:
How many people know that, in 2002:
¦ 1.1 billion people lacked access to improved water sources (tap water in the house or yard from public distribution systems, protected wells and springs, public stand posts, (rain water collection), which represented 17% of the global population.
¦ 2.6 billion (42% of the world population) lacked access to basic sanitation.
¦ Of the 1.1 billion without access to improved water sources, nearly two thirds live in
¦ 1.8 million people die every year from diarrhoeal diseases (including cholera); 90% are children under 5, mostly in developing countries.
¦ 80% of the population without access to drinking-water were rural dwellers, but future population growth will be mainly urban.
Based on current and emerging priorities, the overall objectives of the UN International Decade for Action Water for Life 2005–2015 (which include the campaign elements/messages of World Water Day 2005) are:
¦ to infuse a sense of urgency and ensure acceleration of effort by all stakeholders in order to meet the 2015 MDG water and sanitation targets;
¦ to promote greater awareness of the broader picture of how Integrated Water Resources Development and Management critically underpins the efforts to achieve all of the MDSs, not only Target 10;
¦ To catalyze and scale up the participation of civil society towards building greater societal commitment for the Water for Life effort.
Useful web sites
International Decade for Action Water for Life 2005–2015: http://www.un.org/waterforlifedecade
World Water Day: http://www.worldwaterday.org/
International Water and Sanitation Center (IRC): http://www.irc.nl/
Ideas for Water Awareness Campaigns (ISDR, UNEP, UN):
Water, Sanitation and Health web site at WHO: http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/en ; http://www.earthprint.com: http://un-water.net
Water and Sanitation Program (World Bank): http://www.wsp.org
Household water network: www.who.int/household_water
Water associations worldwide http://www.collinsassoc.ca/water/resources.htm
International Water Association (IWA): http://www.iwahq.org.uk/
Australian Water Association (AWA): http://www.awwa.asn.au/
American Water Works Association (AWWA). http://www.awwa.org/
Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM): http://www.ciwem.org.uk/
European Water Association (EWA): http://www.ewaonline.de/
New Zealand Water and Wastes Association (NZWWA): email at email@example.com
Water Environment Federation (WEF): www.wef.org
source material from United Nations website
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