|© UNICEF/HQ06-0149/ MICHAEL KAMBER|
|Nomadic girls and women fill containers with water from a large puddle in the middle of the road near the town of Wajid in the southern Bakool Region.|
Millions of women and children collect water daily for their families for drinking, cooking and washing. When water is scarce distances covered and time spent getting this life source greatly increases, putting pressure on the health and well being of women and children.
World Water Day is a chance to measure the progress towards the Millennium development target of halving the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe water and basic sanitation by 2015. Water plays a key role in the achievement of most of the Millennium Development Goals including hunger reduction, universal education, empowerment of women, improved health, enhanced child survival, environmental sustainability and advancing global partnerships for development.
Children are at the heart of these goals, but they continue to pay the price for the lack of clean water and proper sanitation. An estimated 1.2 billion people have gained access to safe water since 1990. Yet, every year, unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation contribute to the deaths of an estimated 1.5 million children under the age of five from diarrhoea.
Population growth means added demand for water, while natural and man made disasters have contaminated water supplies and damaged water facilities.
In December, 1992, the United Nations General Assembly declared 22 March of each year World Water Day. Activities this year include the launch of the “Tap Project,” a grassroots initiative that invites patrons of participating New York City restaurants to donate $1 for drinking water that is usually free of charge. UNICEF will also be supporting efforts of Starbucks Coffee Company and Ethos ™ Water in their commitment to raising awareness of the World Water Crisis by organizing marches in major cities around the United States, including New York. Meanwhile, school children in Sweden are continuing to support UNICEF’s “A Drop of Water” campaign, collecting funds that this year will go towards improving water and sanitation in schools in Ethiopia.
For more information, please contact:
Malene Jensen, Communications Officer, UNICEF NY: Tel +1 212-303-7970, Email Mjensen@unicef.org
Related press releases and news notes:
28 September 2006 - Children pay the price for lack of safe water and sanitation
20 September 2006 - UNICEF calls for children to be at centre of regional action on hygiene
9 August 2006 - 1.68 million people reached in response to water-borne diseases