A teacher at an Early Childhood Development center in Ethiopia practices hand-washing with 1-year-old Gada. Photo by Jake Lyell.
In some parts of the world, clean drinking water is taken for granted. However, in developing nations, a lack of clean water is a serious problem faced in many communities. Without clean water, children and their families are at greater risk of diseases, some of which are preventable. To raise awareness of the need for water cooperation around the world, the United Nations recognizes March 22 as World Water Day.
One of the primary objectives of World Water Day is to bring attention to the importance of freshwater management. The first World Water Day was held in 1993, following recommendations made at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. Since then, the event has become one of the most important dates on the United Nations' calendar.
In many countries where ChildFund operates, freshwater resources are limited. In rural areas, some families and their children have to walk many miles just to access water suitable for drinking. The accessibility of clean water also has a significant impact on other problems, such as food scarcity. Without water derived from irrigation systems or adequate rainfall, crops can fail, which can subsequently lead to families going without food.
The United Nations' Millennium Development Goals have specific targets to improve access to clean drinking water for people living in developing countries, and to tie into this year's theme of water cooperation, Ban Ki-moon, secretary general of the United Nations, emphasized the need for large-scale collaborative initiatives to manage water resources sustainably.
"Each year brings new pressures on water," Ban said. "One third of the world's people already live in countries with moderate to high water stress. Competition is growing between farmers and herders; industry and agriculture; town and country. Upstream and downstream, and across borders, we need to cooperate for the benefit of all — now and in the future."
Ways to Help
ChildFund was founded nearly 75 years ago, and one of our primary goals is to improve access to clean water for families in need.
Our Gifts of Love & Hope catalog offers many ways to help. A gift of $64 will enable us to provide water filters to communities in India where drinking water can carry disease, while a gift of $190 will provide a Mexican family with a 1,000-liter water tank so they can prepare food and wash clothes safely.
To build awareness around World Water Day this year, ChildFund is asking its Twitter followers to compose their best tweets to shed light on the issues of water insecurity for children around the world. Read the ChildFund blog to find out more about the "tweet out" and how you can help.