Happy World Water Day! Did you know that World Water Day has been observed worldwide since 1993? This initiative was one result of a resolution made by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, which met in Rio de Janiero in 1992. Originally, nations were invited to "devote the Day to implement the UN recommendations and set up concrete activities as deemed appropriate in the national context." Thus far, this has included laying pipes and pouring concrete and digging wells in areas most in need of fresh drinking water. The fundraising efforts continue in hopes that providing fresh water will increase sanitation, improve health conditions, and lift impoverished people out of wretched circumstances world wide.
The 2010 celebration of this day falls right in the middle of the UN-dubbed "Water for Life" decade. Launched in 2005, the Water for Life campaign aims to reduce by half the number of people without adequate access to water (which at the time was 1.1 billion; 2.4 billion if you count everyone without clean, potable water). The aim is to implement water programs in poorer and developing nations and rural areas, and to include women in the process of establishing safe water sources within their villages, especially in areas where there has traditionally been a large gender disparity between men and women.
Safe access to clean drinking water should be considered among the most basic of human rights, and while much has been done to combat this problem, the world still has a long way to go. Fresh water makes up less than 3% of all the water on the planet, and that number is only going down. While it sometimes seems like we in the U.S. have water to spare, there are people in this world who would give anything to have collected the water wasted by even one person who left the tap on while brushing their teeth. So in honor of this initiative, think of some ways to conserve (and not waste) this precious resource, and be glad that you're not one of the 2.5 billion people in this world without a toilet.