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Notice to Readers: World Water Day --- March 22, 2008

In 1992, the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development designated March 22 as World Water Day to promote activities related to conservation and development of water resources through advocacy, publication, and the organization of conferences (1). The theme for World Water Day 2008 is The International Year of Sanitation.

Basic sanitation includes access to facilities for the safe disposal of human waste and the ability to maintain hygienic conditions through services such as garbage collection, industrial or hazardous waste management, and wastewater disposal (2). Approximately 2.6 billion persons live without basic sanitation, including 1 billion children. Each year, an estimated 1.5 million children die as a result of poor sanitation, from preventable conditions such as diarrhea and malnutrition (3). To meet the United Nations Millennium Development Goal to reduce by half the proportion of persons without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation, 1.6 billion persons will need access to improved sanitation during 2005--2015 (4).

Effective sanitation programs should include measures to promote personal hygiene, increase access to sanitation facilities, improve drinking water quality, and improve wastewater and industrial waste management processes. Without proper sanitation facilities and wastewater and industrial waste management, local environment and drinking water supplies can become contaminated by bacteria, viruses, parasites, and chemicals, increasing the risk for disease. Programs such as CDC's Water Plus/Agua y Mas empower communities to participate in development of water safety plans, helping them to build skills for maintaining and sustaining improved sanitation programs (5).

When access to safe drinking water is not possible, simple, inexpensive technologies that enable families to treat and safely store drinking water in their homes can prevent illness and save lives. The CDC Safe Water System uses point-of-use water treatment, safe-storage vessels, and effective communications to improve water quality and hygiene in homes, schools, and clinics (6,7). Additional information about World Water Day is available at http://www.unwater.org/worldwaterday/flashindex.html, http://www.worldwaterday.org/page/1023, and http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/hygiene/iys/wwd_2008/en. Additional information regarding the International Year of Sanitation is available at http://esa.un.org/iys/ap.shtml .

References

  1. United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. International year of sanitation: UN action plan. New York, NY: United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs; 2007. Available at http://esa.un.org/iys/ap.shtml.
  2. World Health Organization. Sanitation. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization. Available at http://www.who.int/topics/sanitation/en.
  3. United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. International year of sanitation: sanitation is vital for human health. New York, NY: United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs; 2007. Available at http://esa.un.org/iys/health.shtml.
  4. United Nations. Millennium development goals report 2007. New York, NY: United Nations; 2007. Available at http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/pdf/mdg2007.pdf.
  5. CDC. Water Plus/Agua y Mas. Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services, CDC. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/globalhealth/projects/waterplus.htm.
  6. CDC. Safe Water System. Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services, CDC; 2006. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/safewater.
  7. CDC. Safe water for the community: a guide for establishing a community-based Safe Water System program. Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services, CDC; 2008. Available at http://www.ehproject.org/pdf/ehkm/cdc-safewater_community.pdf.

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Date last reviewed: 3/19/2008

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