The United Nations has designated March 22nd World Water Day, as a means of focusing attention on the importance of fresh water and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.
Safe drinking water is fundamental to healthy lives and prosperous communities; yet nearly a billion people live without it. As a result, lives are cut short, disease is rampant, and hundreds of thousands of people are seriously disadvantaged.
Currently, about one in 8 people, some 884 million world-wide, do not have access to safe, clean drinking water. Because they lack access to safe drinking water, many people become sick, and some of them die. Half of the world's hospital beds are filled with people suffering from water-borne diseases.
According to the World Health Organization, 3,575,000 people die each year from water-related diseases. The vast majority of them, 84 percent, are children under the age of 14, mostly poor, mostly living in the developing world.
The United States is committed to helping create a water-secure world, in which individuals and countries have reliable and sustainable access to an acceptable quantity and quality of water to meet their human, livelihood, ecosystem and production needs. To that end, the U.S. invests hundreds of millions of dollars every year in water supply and sanitation around the world, carried out primarily by the United States Agency for International Development and the Millennium Challenge Corporation.
These U.S. Government organizations have a number of programs to increase water production, to help increase access to clean water for those in need, and to improve water use effectively by helping set up effective water user associations to operate more water-efficient irrigation systems and stopping water leakage in delivery systems.
They are also working to expand access to sanitation services and improved hygiene practices, and to find ways to keep water clean and healthy through reducing pollution and improving waste management programs.
The ability of a society to develop is critically dependent on sustainable and sufficient supplies of high-quality water together with sanitation services, and the reliable maintenance and sufficient capital investment for water and sanitation infrastructure, which require healthy economic development.