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Water makes up 71 percent of our world, but of that 71 percent, only 1 percent is drinkable and more importantly, attainable. The UN designated today, March 22nd, to be World Water Day 25 years ago to raise awareness and advocate for sustainable management of freshwater resources. This day reminds us to be grateful for the drinking water available to us, and spreads awareness for the changes that need to be made. Each year, the UN picks a theme and this year’s theme is Nature for Water.
Nature for Water explores how we can utilize mother nature to overcome water challenges of the 21st century. By neglecting our ecosystem with continued water pollution and degraded vegetation, the amount of drinkable water is shrinking. According to UN.org, “1.8 billion people use a source of drinking water contaminated with feces, putting them at risk of contracting cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio. Unsafe water, poor sanitation and hygiene cause around 842,000 deaths each year”.
Apart from contaminated water, the amount of drinking water is running out. Take Cape Town, South Africa’s situation for example. The city of Cape Town will be the first city to officially shut off all municipal water on April 12th, what is being called “Day Zero”. When a South African resident goes to turn on the faucet after Day Zero, nothing will come out. People will be collecting water rations each day. Something that seems post-apocalyptic to those previously living with modern 21st century luxuries!
There are various nature based solutions that the UN is working on that would improve many of the water challenges the world is facing today. By taking care of the environment, we can drastically improve the sanitation of water and find solutions to the scarcity. Planting new forests, reconnecting rivers to floodplains and restoring wetlands will help rebalance the unstable water cycle. Roughly 2 billion people live without access to clean drinking water, and today, World Water Day calls to action the need for change and solutions.
So what can you do to ensure better quantity and quality of our most valuable resource? Today, and everyday, try to remember that water isn’t something to be taken for granted. Be conscious with your usage, turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth, don’t use the sprinklers when it’s raining, and spread awareness about what is going on in places around the world like Cape Town. Every drop counts, and with awareness comes change, so spread the message about water conservation and sanitation!