Sunday, March 22, 2015

World Water Day 2015

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Q: What is water?
A: Probably a taken for granted convenience or commodity in many places of the developed world.

In fact, the UN reminds everyone otherwise, and today especially on the occasion of World Water Day 2015. Indeed, water is much, much more. 

According to the UN, water is health, nature, urbanization, industry, energy, food and equality (Yes, women are estimated to spend 200 million hours each day fetching water for their families, in developing nations, which could be spent studying in school, in income-generating activity, or caring for family).[UN - Water]

Taking just one of the UN meanings of water: Water is health, here are a few key figures, culling information from the UN, the World Bank and WHO (World Health Organization):  
  • You cannot survive without water for more than a few days.
  •  It is estimated that every person needs about 20 Liters (4 gallons of water per day). [World Bank & UN] 
  •  An estimated 748 million people do not have access to safe drinking water world-wide, and 2.5 billion have no access to sanitation facilities [UN].
  • Safe water is water free from bacteria, safe for drinking and bathing, including treated surface water and uncontaminated water from springs, sanitary wells and protected bore holes [World Bank
  •  Sanitation is basic sewage and drainage systems that collect waste water and then clean and re-distribute it.  [World Bank]].
  • 88% of the global burden of disease is attributable to unsafe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene, concentrated on children in the developing world. [WHO 1WHO 2WHO 3]
 That should be plenty, but still there is more to water…

 Now, combine and reprocess all the UN meanings of water (health, nature, urbanization, industry, energy, food and equality) with Climate Change, and visit the EPA (US Environmental Protection Agency). This agency will provide you with information and news on the sorts of plans and measures being implemented to respond to the effects of Climate Change on water Resources.

In a nutshell, global planetary warming due to increased emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) is predicted to have effects on the “timing, forms and intensity of the precipitations, the flow of water in watersheds and the quality of aquatic and marine environments.” This means, for example,” longer and more severe droughts [..], less annual waterfalls and also increased rain and precipitation events [..], rises in sea level encroaching on freshwater areas and rises in stream and lake temperature”.  [EPA]

 Finally, back full circle to the UN -- water and climate change have prompted the CLICO  project (Climate Change, Hydro-conflicts and Human security). This project sought to uncover potential exacerbation of conflicts in the MMES region (Mediterranean, Middle East and Sahel) arising from climate change and its impact on water resources. And, interestingly enough, the project also explored the possibility, and opportunity, of increased cooperation and peace in these regions, precisely arising out of concerted efforts to counter the effects of global warming on water resources and their potential threat to human security. [UN - CLICO (1) UN-CLICO (2)]

 Indeed, there is much cause for celebration and action today! Happy World Water Day!

EPA – US Environmental Protection Agency – Climate change and water
UN Water – World Water Day 2015
UN – CLICO - Climate Change, Hydro-conflicts and Human security (1) (2)
WHO 1 – World Health organization - Water, Sanitation and Health (WSH)
WHO 2– Water related diseases
WHO 3 – WSH – Burden of disease and cost – effectiveness estimates
World Bank – DEP – Development Education Program - Glossary

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