Celebrated on March 22, World Water Day focuses attention on the importance of universal access to clean water. The international annual event, created and designated by the United Nations, was first commemorated in 1993. Supporters raise awareness for the need of sanitation and hygiene facilities in developing countries and advocate for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.
According to the UN, water pollution is a global challenge that has increased in both developed and developing countries. It’s a global problem that undermines economic growth, as well as the physical and environmental health of billions of people.
Nature for Water
The theme for World Water Day 2018 is “Nature for Water” and exploring nature-based solutions for the current water challenges our planet faces. According to reports, 2.1 billion people live without safe drinking water at home, which negatively impacts their health, education and livelihoods.
Damaged ecosystems affect the quantity and quality of water available for human consumption. As part of its Sustainable Development Goals, the UN has committed to ensuring everyone around the world has access to safe water by 2030. The UN has also placed targets on protecting the environment and reducing pollution.
Water Pollution Threats
Human settlements, industries and agriculture are the major causes of water pollution. Globally, 80 percent of municipal wastewater is untreated upon discharge and the contaminated wastewater flows directly into bodies of water. Industries dump millions of tonnes of metal, solvents, toxic sludge and other waste into water each year. Farms around the world discharge chemicals, organic matter, drug residues, sediments and saline drainage into our water.
Approximately 663 million people lack access to safe drinkable water, and 1.8 billion people use contaminated drinking water filled, putting them at risk of contracting cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio. Unsafe water causes 842,000 deaths each year.
- Over the last 40 years, populations of freshwater species have declined by 81% – more than double the rates seen in land and ocean-dwelling species.
- The average American uses 80-100 gallons of water a day, 10 times more than the average person in rural sub-Saharan Africa.
- According to the World Health Organization, 5 gallons of water is sufficient for very basic drinking, cooking and hand washing needs in a developing country.
- In Africa and Asia, women and girls walk an average of 6km a day carrying 40 pounds of water, which is equivalent to carrying a 40” flat screen TV for more than 3.5 miles every day.