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Announcement: World Water Day --- March 22, 2011

Bringing clean water to cities is critical to achieving a healthier and more prosperous world. Globally, residents of rural areas are moving into cities in record numbers. By the year 2050, an estimated 70% of the world's population will be living in urban areas (1). To highlight the water-related needs of these fast-growing cities and the subsequent challenges faced by governments and utility companies, the theme for this year's World Water Day, March 22, 2011, is Water for Cities: Responding to the Urban Challenge.

Many of the world's water systems are poorly maintained. More than half of the water might be lost to leakages and construction of illegal connections by nonpaying users (2). Even in cities with well-developed public water networks, the water might not always be safe to drink because of poor disinfection practices or because the water becomes contaminated once it is in the distribution network (3).

Water plays a key role in many goals of international development programs (2,4). Recent cholera outbreaks in Zimbabwe and Haiti highlight the potentially devastating consequences of deficiencies in urban water supplies (5,6). In addition to the physical health of the population, water availability and quality is fundamental for agricultural production, food safety, economic growth, educational opportunities, and environmental management. Additional information about World Water Day activities and CDC's efforts to improve water quality and prevent disease is available at http://www.unwater.org/worldwaterday/index.html and http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/global.

References

  1. United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT). State of the world's cities 2008/2009: harmonious cities. Nairobi, Kenya: UN-HABITAT; 2008. Available at http://www.unhabitat.org/pmss/listitemdetails.aspx?publicationid=2562. Accessed March 14, 2011.
  2. World Water Assessment Program. The 3rd United Nations world water development report: demographic, economic and social drivers. Paris, France: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and London, England: Earthscan; 2009. Available at http://www.unesco.org/water/wwap/wwdr/wwdr3/pdf/12_wwdr3_ch_2.pdf. Accessed March 14, 2011.
  3. Lee EJ, Schwab KJ. Deficiencies in drinking water distribution systems in developing countries. J Water Health 2005;3:109--27.
  4. United Nations. United Nations millennium declaration. Presented at the United Nations General Assembly, 8th Plenary Meeting. New York, NY; September 8, 2000. Available at http://www.un.org/millennium/declaration/ares552e.htm. Accessed March 14, 2011.
  5. World Health Organization. Cholera: global surveillance summary, 2008. Wkly Epidemiol Rec 2009;84:309--24.
  6. CDC. Update on cholera --- Haiti, Dominican Republic, and Florida, 2010. MMWR 2010;59:1637--41.

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