Updated: Mar 23, 2021
Today, the 22nd March, is World Water Day!
The aim of the annual World Water Day is to appreciate water, raise awareness of the global water crisis and highlight how there are disparities across the globe in access to water.
There are 17 Sustainable Development Goals which were set out in 2015 as global goals to be achieved by the year 2030. Their aim is to work towards sustainable development across the world, focusing on the message of “leave no-one behind”. Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6) aims to ensure clean sanitation and access to water for all. Check out the 8 main targets to achieve SDG 6 at this link.
Despite the efforts to achieve SDG 6, there are approximately 2.2 billion people worldwide that do have access to safe drinking water and 4.2 billion people do not have access to safe sanitation (that includes toilet and handwashing facilities) . As a result, an estimated 801,000 children under the age of 5 die every year from diarrhoeal diseases such as Shigellosis, Rotavirus, Cholera, Escherichia coli, which are caused by poor sanitation and unsafe water . This is a horrific statistic which highlights the inequalities across the world, particularly amongst impoverished settings.
As we find ourselves battling a pandemic of an infectious disease, COVID-19, that spreads via droplets and inhalation, we have all been made aware of the vital importance of handwashing to prevent the spread of the virus. We may have sung “Happy Birthday” or Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” whilst washing our hands with soap for 20 seconds. However, 3 billion people worldwide do not have access to handwashing facilities (that is ample safe water and soap) !
There are numerous aspects of our world and lives that rely on safe water: human health, animal health, ecosystems, food security, industrial development and production of energy, to name a few.
Every person has the right to clean and safe water. Progress has been made to achieve SDG 6, in that we have recognised that sustainable development across all countries cannot be achieved without access to safe water. However, this progress is slow and more financial investment needs to be made into providing safe water sources and sanitation facilities for all communities. We also need to protect our freshwater sources and put an end to pollution, which is an expanding problem. As our global population increases, so does the waste from the agricultural, oil and sewage industries, making its way to our water sources.
The theme of this year's World Water Day is valuing water, and this is not referring to only its monetary value.
Water has enormous and complex value for our households, food, culture, health, education, economics and the integrity of our natural environment. If we overlook any of these values, we risk mismanaging this finite, irreplaceable resource. SDG 6 is to ensure water and sanitation for all. UN WATER
So, how do you value your water?
As I write this I have already had a long hot shower which came straight out the showerhead, washed my hands after breakfast with hot water out a tap, drank a glass of clear and refreshing water and boiled the kettle for a warming mug of Yorkshire tea. I realise how much I take these everyday actions and the accessibility of water for granted.
This week I’m going to make sure I do not overuse water - by simple activities like taking shorter showers, doing fewer washing machine loads, and turning the tap off when washing the dishes. I am also going to appreciate the water around me - how fortunate I am to run along the Leeds & Liverpool canal which provides a home for several bird species, and the reservoirs near my home in Lancashire where I enjoy my daily walks. Taking a moment of peace and tranquility these water sources bring, in addition to all the other purposes they serve.
Let’s leave you with some food for thought this week and some questions to reflect on this World Water Day…
What does water mean to you?
Why is water important to you?
How does water affect females and males differently?
How does water play a role in your cultural practices?
What role does water play in your home, workplace or school?
What role will water play in your future?
What would you change about water in your area?
What do you use the most water for?
How does water affect the food you eat?
 Sustainable Development Goals: https://sdgs.un.org/goals
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (2016) Global Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/global/wash_statistics.html#:~:text=Worldwide%2C%20780%20million%20people%20do,world's%20population
 World Water Day: https://www.worldwaterday.org/
Website for World Water Day: https://www.worldwaterday.org/
Sustainable Development Goals: https://sdgs.un.org/goals; https://www.globalgoals.org/6-clean-water-and-sanitation
Check out Persil’s fun family activities to do this World Water Day: