FACTS ABOUT WATER
- Close to 800 million people have no access to safe drinking water
- 2.5 billion people lack basic sanitation services
- Only 10 nations worldwide share 65% of the world's annual water resources
- 70% of the Earth's surface is covered by water, 97.5% is salt water and 2.5% is fresh water, with less than 1% really available for human consumption
- 1 in 5 people are without access to safe drinking water
WORLD WATER DAY
Like so many environmental programs, including our own parent organization, Green Cross International, World Water Day owes its origin to the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution to designate March 22 of each year as the World Day for Water.
Many of us recognize the potential for increased conflict over water resources, but we do not always realize how the mutual dependence and shared nature of a water resource can also be the basis for increased cooperation between peoples.
Green Cross addresses the lack of access to water and sanitation through advocacy, education, and practical projects around the world. The focus is on three key areas: Right to Water and Sanitation; Water for Peace; and Smart Water for Green Schools.
The Green Cross Water Program is focused largely on conflict areas, primarily in the Middle East. The program includes projects with local partners such as The Peres Centre for Peace, where our ultimate goal is to influence policy makers in both Palestine and Israel to ensure that the equitable distribution of water resources and water treatment are properly represented in top level peace talks, as well as with Friends of the Earth Middle East to tackle the problem of sewage seepage into the trans-boundary aquifers between Israel and Palestine, well capacity building in the water sector in the Gaza Strip, as well as rainwater collection in schools in Israel, Palestine and Jordan.
The rainwater harvesting projects build on our earlier projects in Bolivia and new ones in the Middle East, Argentina, Burkina Faso, and will be extended next month to Chad, where we will be addressing some of the most desperate conditions of poverty related to water scarcity. The Chad project is an off-shoot of the international program, launched at the Hague Second World Water Forum, of Green Cross International to equip 500 schools around the world in three years with rainwater harvesting devises utilizing solar energy coupling to sanitation equipment in order to demonstrate how important and vital it is to save water and energy in our day to day lives.
The awareness of the need to better conserve water and the educational impact that these systems have had on local communities in developed as well as developing countries are invaluable. When it rains, school children partake in measurement activities designed to show precisely how much water is being collected from these systems, how much money is being saved, and most importantly, how everyone can take action to do his or her part in better water management and conservation. Furthering these programs is how we hope to do our part in observing World Water Day and we encourage you to do yours.
It is difficult to imagine that water shortages could be a problem on a planet that is 75% water, however, only a tiny fraction of the earth's water is drinkable and overconsumption and pollution of water supplies have stressed the world's fresh water systems to the brink.
Today, more than 1.2 billion people do not have access to clean water. Every year, more than five million people (many of them women and children) die of water-related diseases, which are the world's leading cause of illness. Additionally 2.4 billion people lack basic sanitation and services that exacerbate these diseases.
It has been estimated that clean, safe water can be brought to the 1.2 billion people around the world for as little as $50 per person. It is ironic that we spend billions of dollars on missions to Mars to see if water ever existed on that barren planet but we can't find the political will to insure that the water that exists on Earth reaches the billions of thirsty people in need today.
WORLD WATER FORUM
Report on the 2012 World Water Forum