Safe drinking water is fundamental to healthy lives and prosperous communities. To focus attention on the importance of clean water and to advocate for the sustainable management of fresh water resources, on March 22nd of every year we observe International World Water Day.
Every person needs at least twenty liters of water per day for drinking, cooking, sanitation, and hygiene needs alone. Yet some 2 billion people world-wide do not have access to safe drinking water, and more than 2.4 billion people do not have access to improved sanitation for adequate disposal of human waste. People who do not have access to clean water and sanitation are at greatly increased risk of infectious diseases, which can lead to physical and cognitive impairments and premature death.
Contaminated water and poor sanitation are among the main causes of severe diarrheal diseases in the very young, the second leading cause of death in children under five years old. According to the World Health Organization, or W-H-O, some 760,000 young children die of diarrheal diseases across the world every year. It is further estimated that as few as five incidences of diarrhea in children under the age of two can lead to lifelong effects, such as developmental delays and stunting.
Clearly, an adequate supply of safe water and access to basic sanitation are the most basic necessities of life. But the importance of clean water goes so much further than the assurance of hydration and cleanliness.
This year’s theme for the United Nations World Water Day is Better Water, Better Jobs. The slogan is meant to bring attention to the fact that nearly all jobs, regardless of the sector, depend directly on water. Cleaner water makes for a safer, more productive environment, results in healthier food, and contributes to a greener economy and sustainable development.
But ensuring that people everywhere have access to all the clean water they need, where they need it, when they need it, reliably and sustainably, requires global cooperation.
On this World Water Day, the United States remains steadfast in our commitment to achieving a water-secure future, and we invite all stakeholders to partner with us to save water and save lives.