March 22 is U.N. World Water Day

One of the interesting side benefits to working for a global financial services giant is having a corporate intranet that highlights world news and philanthropic events.  In the past few days, my attention has been solely focused on March Madness, rinsing all the winter grime off my truck, and following the Health Care Reform legislation that passed the House of Representatives yesterday evening.  So it’s great to be able to come to work and learn about events that are bigger than my narrow daily view usually provides!

Today, I found out that March 22 is “World Water Day”, a yearly event promoted by UN-Water to highlight issues around water quality and availability worldwide.

The World Water Day 2010 and its campaign is envisaged to:

  • Raise awareness about sustaining healthy ecosystems and human well-being through addressing the increasing water quality challenges in water management and
  • Raise the profile of water quality by encouraging governments, organizations, communities, and individuals around the world to actively engage in proactively addressing water quality e.g. in pollution prevention, clean up and restoration

For those of you that have been reading this blog since the beginning, I had once promoted Charity:Water through banner ads on the side of the blog, which in theory provided tens of thousands of gallons of fresh drinking water in developing countries (until the ad plugin caused severe downtime on the blog.  I need to revisit the ‘ads for charity’ idea.).  But it wasn’t until I traveled to India (and my resulting sickness) that I truly understood how important fresh, clean water is for human survival.  Before the trip, I had always taken for granted that I could drink nearly any source of water and be ‘ok’, that I could go anywhere and find water easily and more importantly, cheaply.  Water from the tap, water from a garden hose, even water flowing out of a spring near the house I grew up in.  All of it was safe to drink, even if the taste left something to be desired.

Looking more into the UN-Water website, I was amazed to see that according to the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme, 87% of the World’s population (~5.9 Billion people) have access to safe drinking water.  But later on in the page, the impact of the resulting 13% that don’t have clean water really stands out:

”With almost 884 million people living without access to safe drinking-water and approximately three times that number lacking basic sanitation we must act now as one global community to ensure water and sanitation for all,” said Ms. Clarissa Brocklehurst, UNICEF Chief of the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH).

While “the world is on track to meet or even exceed the drinking-water target of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG)” in the next five years, that nearly a billion people still don’t have access to clean water, and 2.6 billion are lacking basic sanitation, are both sobering statistics.  Lower economic development aside, that 2.6 billion people have to suffer through water-borne illness (or even death) makes this issue so heart-wrenching.

For those of you who are interested in reading in much more detail about clean water and sanitation across the World, the JMP Progress on Sanitation and Drinking- Water: 2010 Update Report” can be downloaded from the following link.  From my quick scan of the document (50+ pages), the document is jam packed full of graphs and tables of sanitation/water quality statistics, and looks to be a fantastic resource for learning more about this great cause.

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