Friday, March 21, 2008

World Water Day

March 22nd is World Water Day, as designated by the United Nations. They decreed 2005-2015 as the International Decade for action, or "The Water for Life" Decade. It aims to promote efforts to fulfil international commitments made on water and water-related issues by 2015, placing a special emphasis on the involvement on women in these efforts.

Water is essential for life. Yet many millions of people around the world face water shortages and a daily struggle to secure safe water for their basic needs. Millions of children continue to die every year from preventable water-borne diseases. Water-related natural disasters such as floods, tropical storms and tsunamis exact a heavy toll in human life and suffering. And all too regularly, drought afflicts some of the world’s poorest countries, exacerbating hunger and malnutrition.

Have you heard of the Millennium Development goals? These goals, agreed to by all 191 United Nations Member States at the Millennium Summit in 2000, set specific targets for educing poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation and discrimination against women by 2015. If you have received a copy of the paper I wrote on the poverty in Niger you will see these goals used as benchmarks to judge their progress and problems as a country and ways to address these needs with our work in Niger. (If you haven't read it and want a copy - email me).

Regarding water, Governments agreed to reduce by half the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water by 2015, the year to mark the end of the International Decade for Action: “Water for Life”.

Improving access to safe water and sanitation is critical not only to reducing poverty but also to reducing maternal and child mortality and combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other major diseases.
More than 2 million people in developing countries, most of them children, die each year from diseases associated with unsafe drinking water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene.

So why do I care so much? Well, a lot of the work Paul and I are going to do in Niger revolves around development work and water plays a big part in that. We are partnering with Samaritans purse to help buid bio-sand water filters to bring clean waters and health education to families. You can read about this awesome project here:

Watch the video on that page. It's pretty amazing.

I will also be teaching about health and nutrition in Niger and water and hygiene plays a huge role. Last fall I designed an e-course, intended for workers going to countries like Niger, to be able to understand the importance of water and how to recognize, treat and teach others about Diarrhea and Dehydration, both of which are linked to poor water quality. You can take a few minutes and learn this information by looking at the e-course I designed. (It's still a work in progress so feel free to give me feedback!)

Water is Life e-course:

I encourage you to take the time today or this week to look into the importance of clean water, and lack of it, around the world. Appreciate and be a good steward with what you have access to. And maybe even think about supporting water and health intiatives across the world, be it our work in Niger, or many other of the worthy initiatives that are out there.

You can make a difference.

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