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World Water Day: ‘Leaving no one behind’

World Water Day is annually observed by the United Nations on March 22nd, with the objective of directing the spotlight on the importance of clean freshwater. ‘Leaving no one behind;’ the theme for 2019 clearly intends to highlight the need for easy availability, accessibility and affordability of safe and clean water for everyone alike, to be used for personal and domestic use.

The UN, in 2010, realized “the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights.” Water is an essential building block of life. It is more than just essential to quench thirst, use in domestic chores or protect health; water is vital for supporting economic, social, and human development. All humans are equally entitled to safe water without having to face any form of discrimination.

This year the major area of focus is inclusion; no specific group should be neglected in the movement toward ameliorated fresh water supply. Marginalized groups, including women, children, refugees, indigenous peoples, disabled people and many others, are likely to get overlooked, or at times face discrimination in trying to access safe water. Water services must cater to all groups, and with extra effort for those that are in greater need. Distinct heed must be paid to the voices of the marginalized groups when making impactful decisions. Labour and funding should be prioritized and effectively reserved for the deprived masses.

Issues of water scarcity and poor water quality have serious economic consequences. Almost all businesses are water-dependent one way or another, which is why many are now seeking to become better corporate water stewards and recognize internationally developed standards for better water use.

Water is in abundance on Earth, covering 70% of the planet’s surface. 69% of that water is unfit for consumption! The remaining 1% is striving to keep us hydrated and clean; keep our stoves burning; keep our crops blooming; and producing energy for us. That 1% is not enough, and even that 1% is under threat.

Issues of water scarcity and poor water quality have serious economic consequences. Almost all businesses are water-dependent one way or another, which is why many are now seeking to become better corporate water stewards and recognize internationally developed standards for better water use. Pollution, dams, overuse, climate change and other impacts have contributed to the water crises. The ecosystem is losing balance and human life is becoming more vulnerable. Absence of freshwater naturally leads to consumption of water from unsafe sources. Diseases caused by inadequate sanitation and unsafe water kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war! Children in particular are at risk: More than 700 children under five years of age die every day from diarrhoea linked to unsafe water and poor sanitation. Almost all of these deaths occur in developing countries. It is imperative to ensure that everyone around the world has safe, sustainable access to fresh water for drinking and sanitation.

Things you can do…

  1. Be aware of your water use at home- Realize that the more water you use, the lesser you leave behind for others. Being aware of your water usage will push you to consider steps like taking shorter showers or using a bucket, turning off the tap while brushing teeth, using a bucket instead of running water pipe to wash your vehicle, and using only necessary amount of water for washing dishes and clothes, among many others.
  2. Take account of your personal “water footprint”- The water footprint shows the extent of water use in relation to consumption by people, which is the amount of water you use in daily life, including that which is used to produce the food you eat, the energy you use and the things you own, like clothing, cars and furniture. For example, producing beef takes four times the amount of water as producing chicken meat, so reducing your beef intake could make a big difference.

Calculate your water ‘footprint’ here!!! https://www.watercalculator.org/

  1. Find out where your water comes from- This will be interesting. The water is your taps journeys a long way before it gets there. The water comes from a river or a lake, which usually has a cultural significance. Knowing where your water comes from makes you care about that place and its wellbeing, and so both, its depletion and development, will influence your routine practices.
  2. Donate- There are several welfare organizations throughout the world that are striving to make safe water available in disadvantaged areas. Help them with your donations. You would be contributing to a great cause!

Important Facts & Figures

  • 1 billion people live without safe water at home.
  • One in four primary schools have no drinking water service, with pupils using unprotected sources or going thirsty.
  • More than 700 children under five years of age die every day from diarrhoea linked to unsafe water and poor sanitation.
  • Globally, 80% of the people who have to use unsafe and unprotected water sources live in rural areas.
  • Women and girls are responsible for water collection in eight out of ten households with water off-premises.
  • For the 68.5 million people who have been forced to flee their homes, accessing safe water services is highly problematic.
  • Around 159 million people collect their drinking water from surface water, such as ponds and streams.
  • Around 4 billion people – nearly two-thirds of the world’s population – experience severe water scarcity during at least one month of the year.
  • Over 800 women die every day from complications in pregnancy and childbirth.
  • 700 million people worldwide could be displaced by intense water scarcity by 2030.

-UN Water


 

March 22, 2019

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