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Notice to Readers: World Water Day, March 22, 2003

In 1992, the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development designated March 22 of each year as World Water Day. The theme for this year is "Water for the Future." 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). The third annual World Water Forum will be held in Kyoto, Shiga, and Osaka, Japan during March 16--23.

Approximately 1.1 billion persons lack access to an improved water source, and 2.4 billion persons do not have access to adequate sanitation. Diarrhea accounts for approximately 4 billion episodes of illness and 2.2 million deaths every year, disproportionately affecting young children. Safe water, adequate sanitation, and hygiene education can reduce diarrheal disease deaths by an estimated 65% and related morbidity by 26% (2). One of the Millennium Development Goals set at the World Summit for Sustainable Development in 2002 is to reduce by 50% the proportion of persons without access to safe water by 2015.

CDC's Safe Water System is a water-quality intervention that uses simple, inexpensive technologies to enable persons to treat and safely store drinking water in their homes. It has been adapted for use by street vendors, schools, and health clinics. Safe Water Systems for the Developing World: A Handbook for Implementing Household-Based Water Treatment and Safe Storage Projects is a resource for program managers, technical staff, and other personnel in organizations involved in water and sanitation projects (3). It is available in English, French, and Spanish; an Arabic edition will be published later this year. CDC, in collaboration with its partners, is establishing a Global Network to promote safe household water treatment and storage to reduce waterborne disease, especially among children and the poor.

Additional information about World Water Day is available at Information about CDC's Safe Water System is available at


  1. United Nations Environment Programme. World Water Day 2003: water for the future. Available at
  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.
  3. CDC. Safe water systems for the developing world: a handbook for implementing household-based water treatment and safe storage projects. Atlanta, Georgia: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, CDC, 2001.

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References to non-CDC sites on the Internet are provided as a service to MMWR readers and do not constitute or imply endorsement of these organizations or their programs by CDC or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. CDC is not responsible for the content of pages found at these sites. URL addresses listed in MMWR were current as of the date of publication.

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Safer, Healthier People

Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
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