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Notice to Readers: World Water Day, March 22, 2002

In 1992, the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development designated March 22 of each year World Water Day. This year's theme, "Water for Development," is organized by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The objective of World Water Day is to promote activities, such as the publication and diffusion of documents and the organization of conferences and seminars, related to the conservation and development of water resources (1).

Approximately 1.1 billion persons lack access to potable water, and 2.4 billion persons do not have acceptable sanitation. Diarrhea accounts for approximately 4 billion episodes of illness and 2.2 million deaths every year; the greatest burden of illness occurs among children aged <5 years. Safe water, adequate sanitation, and hygiene education can reduce diarrheal disease deaths by an estimated average of 65% and related morbidity by 26% (2).

In response to the need for safe drinking water, CDC, in collaboration with the CARE/CDC Health Initiative, the Rotary Club of Estes Park, Colorado, the Gangarosa International Health Foundation, the CDC Foundation, and CARE, produced Safe Water Systems for the Developing World: A Handbook for Implementing Household-Based Water Treatment and Safe Storage Projects, a resource for program managers, technical staff, and other personnel in organizations involved in water and sanitation projects. The Safe Water System is a water-quality intervention that uses simple, inexpensive technologies to improve water quality at the point of use. Approximately 1,000 English handbooks have been distributed; French and Spanish versions will be available later this year. CDC is developing a public health action plan for waterborne illness. A meeting to gather input for the plan from key domestic and international stakeholders will be held starting March 22, 2002, to coincide with World Water Day.

Additional information about World Water Day is available from IAEA's World-Wide Web site, Information about the Safe Water System is available at, telephone (404) 639-2206, and at


  1. International Atomic Energy Agency. World Water Day 2002: Water for development. Available at Accessed February 2002.
  2. World Health Organization and United Nations Children's Fund. Global water supply and sanitation assessment 2000 report. Geneva, Switzerland and New York, New York: World Health Organization and United Nations Children's Fund, 2000.

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