World Water Day is a constant that always is celebrated on March 22. The changeable factor is the theme. This year’s theme asks “Why waste water?” It’s about reducing our use of water and reusing wastewater. The thrust is to cut in half the amount of untreated wastewater and increase water recycling where it can be used safely.
The theme is proposed each year by UN-Water, which is an inter-agency entity of the United Nations. Its job is to support the water-related work of nations to reach the Millennium Development goals. The theme also provides the focus for the UN World Water Development Report that UN-Water produces.
World Water Day brings attention on the importance of fresh water and advocates for its sustainable management. It highlights required improvements for access to WASH (water, sanitation, hygiene) facilities in developing nations.
It is also a day for Canadians to focus on their use, or over-use, of freshwater. Most Canadians have immediate access to clean fresh water and may take it for granted. But Canadians must remember that a lack of clean water is not exclusive to Third World countries. We have that problem here in Canada. The David Suzuki Foundation reports that more than 100 First Nations in Canada face that problem.
Suzuki asks us to imagine three water-related problems that are reality in some First Nations communities but are not issues with most of us. They are: being able to turn on a tap at home to get a glass of clean drinking water; worrying when you bathe your children in water that may make them sick or develop a rash; and having to boil water to wash the dishes.
This is the reality for many First Nations in Canada. Many communities have faced these conditions for years, or even decades.
The federal government promised to end drinking water advisories in First Nations within five years of being elected. The David Suzuki Foundation is monitoring federal progress toward ensuring clean water. It started with First Nations in Ontario, the province with the highest number of advisories. Suzuki’s research shows the government is not on track to achieve its commitment. Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) use World Water Day to raise awareness and expedite action to alleviate the problems. This is done through publications, films, seminars and round tables.
The first World Water Day was launched by the United Nations General Assembly in 1993.