Last week the world celebrated World Water Day and although World Water Day 2011 has passed, the celebration continues all year long!
An international day to celebrate freshwater was recommended at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). The United Nations General Assembly responded by designating 22 March 1993 as the first World Water Day and ever since then, World Water Day has been held annually on 22 March as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.
The objective of World Water Day 2011 was to focus international attention on the impact of rapid urban population growth, industrialization, and uncertainties caused by climate change, conflicts, and natural disasters on urban water systems. This year’s theme, Water for cities: responding to the urban challenge, aimed to spotlight and encourage governments, organizations, communities, and individuals to actively engage in addressing the challenges of urban water management.
This is the first time in human history that most of the world’s population live in cities: 3.3 billion people …and the urban landscape continues to grow. 38% of the growth is represented by expanding slums, while the city populations are increasing faster than city infrastructure can adapt.
Investments in infrastructure have not kept up with the rate of urbanization, while water and waste services show significant underinvestment… Few urban authorities in developing countries have found a sustainable solution to urban sanitation, and utilities cannot afford to extend sewers to the slums, nor can they treat the volume of sewage already collected. Solid waste disposal is a growing threat to health and the environment.
For more information about World Water Day, visit http://www.worldwaterday2011.org.
You can also read the March 2011 issue of Global Waters, a bi-monthly newsletter dedicated to the broad portfolio of water-related activities of the United States Agency for International Development at http://www.usaid.gov/our_work/cross-cutting_programs/water/globalwaters/mar2011/Global_Waters_MAR_FINAL_8.pdf