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The Daily Need

Photo: Well, well, it’s World Water Day!

A young boy in an urban slum in Bangladesh enjoys some well water during the heat of summer. Photo: U.N. Photo/Kibae Park

Photographs and video from the tsunami in Japan remind us of the destruction that too much water can do to a community. And yet, the United Nations estimates that more than 1 billion people have inadequate access to clean drinking water.

Getting information like this out there is the focus of the day: World Water Day!

In 1993, the U.N. General Assembly designated March 22 as the first World Water Day to focus international attention on the importance of freshwater and to promote sustainable management of freshwater drinking sources. It reports that rapid urban population growth, industrialization and uncertainties caused by climate change, conflicts and natural disasters have greatly affected urban water systems around the world.

Each year, the U.N. campaign highlights one aspect of freshwater, such as water scarcity (2007) and sanitation (2008). This year’s topic is water and urbanization.

Here are some interesting facts from the U.N. Water World Water Day 2011 Action Handbook to get your World Water Day conversations going:

  • 827.6 million people live in informal settlements, often lacking access to adequate drinking water and sanitation facilities.
  • 27% of the urban population in the developing world does not have piped water at home.
  • 493 million people in cities share their sanitation facilities.
  • 794 million people, or one in four city residents worldwide, live without access to improved sanitation facilities (meaning at the very least a pit latrine, pour-flush latrine or flush toilet with a sewer connection).
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