Water has been appreciated by humanity as a life-giving force since the dawn of time and many cultures and religions have worshipped it in its various forms. While many people still hold a reverence for it, for many more it seems that when you take away the need to seek it out – as happens when if flows freely from a tap, it is often just taken for granted (for another perspective see the one-minute award-winning films).
While water shortage may be something we associate with poor and dry countries, over-exploitation of water resources and the increasing impact of climate change have resulted in severe drought in some of the richest and wettest parts of the world including California, Australia and Brazil, while water shortages are also implicated in starting numerous conflicts around the world in Africa and the Middle-East. In the past, the absence of freshwater has been implicated in bringing about the downfall of numerous civilizations, in India, the Mediterranean, Central America and the cradle of civilization in Iraq, to list but a few.
These and countless other similar stories demonstrate how clean water is at the core of all development while ensuring this is produced in the right way is at the core of sustainable development. Water resources, and the range of services they provide, underpin poverty reduction, economic growth and environmental sustainability. From food and energy security to human and environmental health, water contributes to improvements in social well-being and inclusive growth, affecting the livelihoods of billions.
World Water Day 2015 – ‘Humanity needs water’
As enshrined in UN Resolution 64/292 the right to clean water and sanitation is a basic human right and is fundamental to the realization of other human rights. World Water Day is marked on 22 March every year. It’s described as a day to celebrate water, a day to make a difference for the members of the global population who suffer from water related issues and a day to prepare for how we manage water in the future. Each year, World Water Day highlights a specific aspect of freshwater. Under the 2015 theme ‘Water and Sustainable Development’ it’s about how water links to all areas we need to consider to create the future we want.
- In rural Sub-Saharan Africa millions of people share their domestic water sources with animals or rely on unprotected wells that are breeding grounds for pathogens.
- The average distance that women in Africa and Asia walk to collect water is 6 kilometres.
- Average water use ranges from 200-300 litres a person a day in most countries in Europe to less than 10 litres in countries such as Mozambique. People lacking access to improved water in developing countries consume far less, partly because they have to carry it over long distances and water is heavy. 4. For the 884 million people or so people in the world who live more than 1 kilometre from a water source, water use is often less than 5 litres a day of unsafe water.
- The basic requirement for a lactating women engaged in even moderate physical activity is 7.5 litres a day.
- At any one time, close to half of all people in developing countries are suffering from health problems caused by poor water and sanitation. Together, unclean water and poor sanitation are the world’s second biggest killer of children. It has been calculated that 443 million school days are lost each year to water-related illness.
What can you do?
See and share the World Water Day video and the award-winning shorts. To find out more about the right to water and sanitation check out http://www.righttowater.info. Set about conserving water to save money and reduce pressure on our water resources by researching your options at taptips, Water Use It Wisely and Waterwise. Inform yourself about the importance of water in our lives or by using the tools. If you’re not already doing so providing support to development charities frequently involves improving access to water and sanitation while if you want to upscale your efforts take a look at water use in your organisation.
Did you find this information useful? Let us know what you are thinking of doing to conserve water?
Photo credit: UN-Water