Water is essential for life. Yet many millions of people around the world face water shortages. Many millions of children die every year from water-borne diseases. And drought regularly afflicts some of the world’s poorest countries.
The world needs to respond much better. We need to increase water efficiency, especially in agriculture. We need to free women and girls from the daily chore of hauling water, often over great distances. We must involve them in decision-making on water management. We need to make sanitation a priority. This is where progress is lagging most. And we must show that water resources need not be a source of conflict. Instead, they can be a catalyst for cooperation.
Significant gains have been made. But a major effort is still required. That is why this year, World Water Day also marks the beginning of the “Water for Life” Decade. Our goal is to meet the internationally agreed targets for water and sanitation by 2015, and to build the foundation for further progress in the years beyond.
This is an urgent matter of human development, and human dignity. On this World Water Day, let us resolve to do more to provide safe, clean water to all the world’s people. Let us also reaffirm our commitment to better management of the world’s water resources, which are our lifeline for survival, and for sustainable development in the 21st century.
March 22, 2005
Water and sanitation
* 1.1 billion people lack access to safe drinking water.
* 2.2 billion people lack access to improved sanitation (latrines, hand washing, etc.).
* Safe drinking-water and basic sanitation help prevent water-related disease, including diarrhoeal diseases, schistosomiasis, filariasis, trachoma and helminths.
* The reliability of drinking-water supplies and improved water management in human settlement areas reduce transmission risks of malaria and dengue fever
Water and gender equality
* Reduced time for health and care-giving burdens from improved water services give women more time for productive endeavors, adult education and leisure.
Water and disasters
* Almost 2 billion people — one-third of humanity — were affected by natural disasters in the last decade of the 20th century. Floods and droughts accounted for 86% of the disasters.
For more information, please visit the UN Water For Life site.