GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – Water is an essential building block of life. It is more than just essential to quench thirst or protect health; water is vital for creating jobs and supporting economic, social, and human development.
Thursday March 22 is World Water Day. The 2018 theme is “Nature for Water.” This year’s theme explores how we can use nature to overcome the water challenges of the 21st century.
Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department within the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Ministry VSA), says international World Water Day is held annually 22 March as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.
An international day to celebrate freshwater was recommended at the 1992 United Nations (UN) Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro. The United Nations General Assembly responded by designating 22 March 1993 as the first World Water Day.
Safe water supplies, hygienic sanitation and good water management are fundamental to global health, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Almost one tenth of the global disease burden could be prevented by: increasing access to safe drinking water; improving sanitation and hygiene; and improving water management to reduce risks of water-borne infectious diseases, and accidental drowning during recreation.
Annually, the WHO points out, safer water could prevent: 1.4 million child deaths from diarrhoea; 500 000 deaths from malaria;
860 000 child deaths from malnutrition; and 280 000 deaths from drowning.
In addition, five million people can be protected from being seriously incapacitated from lymphatic filariasis and another five million from trachoma.
According to the UN, today, there are over 663 million people living without a safe water supply close to home, spending countless hours queuing or trekking to distant sources, and coping with the health impacts of using contaminated water.
Environmental damage, together with climate change, is driving the water-related crises we see around the world. Floods, drought and water pollution are all made worse by degraded vegetation, soil, rivers and lakes.
The UN says, when we neglect our ecosystems, we make it harder to provide everyone with the water we need to survive and thrive.
“Nature-based solutions have the potential to solve many of our water challenges. We need to do so much more with ‘green’ infrastructure and harmonize it with ‘grey’ infrastructure wherever possible. Planting new forests, reconnecting rivers to floodplains, and restoring wetlands will rebalance the water cycle and improve human health and livelihoods.”
UN Water says globally, over 80% of the wastewater generated by society flows back into the ecosystem without being treated or reused (Sato et al, 2013).
1.8 billion people use a source of drinking water contaminated with faeces, putting them at risk of contracting cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio. Unsafe water, poor sanitation and hygiene cause around 842,000 deaths each year (WHO/UNICEF 2014/WHO 2014), according to UN Water.
The opportunities from exploiting wastewater as a resource are enormous. Safely managed wastewater is an affordable and sustainable source of water, energy, nutrients and other recoverable materials, UN Water points out.
For more information call CPS at 542-1122, 542-1222, 542-1322 or 542-1570.