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World Water Day 2018

Hands holding glass globe over water

World Water Day is observed each year on March 22 to promote the responsible use of water and access to safe water for everyone. Around the world, 844 million people still do not have a basic drinking water service.1

Water is one of our most important natural resources. Every day, people, animals, and plants depend on water for their survival. Water is necessary for growing food, energy production, individual well-being, and global health.

Waterborne Disease Prevention Around the World

Clean and safe drinking water sustains human life. Without it, waterborne diseases can spread, sickening and sometimes killing adults and children. CDC’s Global Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) experts work to improve global access to safe water, proper sanitation, and hygiene. CDC experts strengthen WASH efforts in response to humanitarian crises and natural disasters and respond to life-threatening outbreaks of waterborne diseases around the world, including outbreaks of cholera, hepatitis, and typhoid fever. CDC also works closely with other U.S. government agencies, foreign Ministries of Health, non-governmental organizations, UN Agencies, private companies, and various international agencies to improve global access to healthy and safe water, proper sanitation, and hygiene.

The United Nations established a sustainable development goal of improving access to safe water and sanitation facilities. Between 2000 and 2015, over 1 billion people gained access to piped water supplies with the potential to deliver safe water for everyday use (for example, tap water in households or public stand posts that provide piped water). Between 1990 and 2015, more than 2 billion people gained access to an improved sanitation facility (a toilet or latrine designed to ensure that people do not come in contact with waste). Despite these improvements, 844 million people still did not have access to a safe drinking water source, and 2.3 billion still did not have access to an improved sanitation facility. Some 892 million people defecate in the open because they do not have access to any type of toilet or latrine.1

Lack of safe drinking water and toilets increases the chance for outbreaks of waterborne diseases like typhoid fever, hepatitis, and cholera. Typhoid, hepatitis, and cholera germs can spread when human waste containing the germs gets into a community’s water supply. That happens when people do not have access to a sanitation facility that can dispose of waste properly. Although rare in the United States, outbreaks of cholera and typhoid continue to occur in low resource countries. Together, these diseases kill from 149,000 to 304,000 men, women, and children each year.2,3

Now is the time to address these challenges to keep the global water supply safe and available for generations to come.

Visit the United Nations’ World Water Day website for more information on World Water Day and ideas on how to get involved.

World Water Day also presents an opportunity to learn about water-related issues that affect us locally. For more information about CDC’s water-related public health efforts in the United States, visit these websites: Drinking Water, Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene-Related Emergency; and Healthy Swimming.

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