World Water Day

hands picking a globe up out of the water

World Water Day, established by the United Nations (U.N.)External in 1993, is observed each year on March 22 to promote the responsible use of water and access to safe water for everyone. Around the world, 2.1 billion people live without safe drinking water at home.

Water is one of the Planet’s most valuable natural resources. Every day, people, animals, and plants depend on water for survival. Water is necessary for growing food, energy production, individual well-being, and global health. This year’s theme, “Leaving No One Behind,” reflects the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal for every person to have access to safe and affordable water.

Waterborne Disease Prevention Around the World

Clean and safe drinking water is essential to human life. Without it, waterborne diseases can spread, sickening and often killing adults and children, who are at higher risk of death. CDC’s Global Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) experts work to improve global access to safe water and proper sanitation, and to promote good hygiene. In addition, CDC works to prevent, detect, and respond to WASH emergencies, including life-threatening outbreaks of cholera, typhoid fever, and many other infectious diseases. CDC also works closely with other U.S. government agencies, foreign Ministries of Health, non-governmental organizations, U.N. agencies, private companies, and various international agencies to improve WASH conditions and reduce the spread of disease in homes and communities; in schools and healthcare facilities; and across international borders.

The U.N. established a Sustainable Development GoalExternal of improving access to safely managed water and sanitation services. Many people across the globe must rely on sources of drinking water that have been potentially contaminated with fecal matter, putting them at risk of contracting cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio. According to the U.N., 2.3 billion people still do not have access to a basic sanitation facility, and 892 million people defecate outside because they do not have access to any type of toilet or latrine.

Safe Water Saves Lives

Lack of safe drinking water and safe sanitation services increase the chance of 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 or food supply. That happens when people do not have access to a sanitation facility that can dispose of waste safely. Although rare in the United States, outbreaks of cholera and typhoid continue to occur in low-resource countries. Together, these diseases kill an estimated 257,400 adults and children each year.

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, Healthy Swimming, and Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene-Related Emergencies.