Skip Navigation LinksSkip Navigation Links
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Safer Healthier People
Blue White
Blue White
bottom curve
CDC Home Search Health Topics A-Z spacer spacer
Blue curve MMWR spacer

Persons using assistive technology might not be able to fully access information in this file. For assistance, please send e-mail to: Type 508 Accommodation and the title of the report in the subject line of e-mail.

Notice to Readers: World Water Day --- March 22, 2005

World Water Day, March 22, 2005, marks the start of the Water for Life Decade, 2005--2015, a new United Nations International Decade for Action (1). The decade-long effort will improve the chances of achieving international water-related goals, including that of the United Nations Millennium Declaration: by 2015, to reduce by 50% the proportion of persons without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.

An estimated 1.1 billion persons lack access to an improved water source*, and 2.6 billion persons lack access to adequate sanitation (2). Waterborne diseases account for approximately 4 billion episodes of illness and 2.2 million deaths every year, disproportionately affecting young children (3). Safe water, adequate sanitation, and hygiene education can substantially reduce morbidity and mortality from diarrheal diseases (4).

The Safe Water System (SWS) program uses simple, inexpensive technologies to empower families to treat and safely store drinking water in their homes ( Promotion of hand washing with soap, an intervention proven to reduce diarrhea (5), is an integral component of SWS projects. SWS programs operate in 19 countries and were a critical tool in responding to contamination of water sources in Indonesia, India, and Myanmar after the December 2004 tsunamis. Safe Water Systems for the Developing World: A Handbook for Implementing Household-Based Water Treatment and Safe Storage Projects is a guide for program managers, technical staff, and other personnel in organizations involved in water and sanitation projects (6). The guide is available in English, French, Spanish, and Arabic. CDC, the World Health Organization, the United Nations Children's Fund, and other public and private partners are members of the International Network to Promote Household Water Treatment and Safe Storage ( Additional information about World Water Day is available at


  1. World Health Organization. Celebrating water for life: the International Decade for Action 2005--2015. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization; 2005. Available at
  2. World Health Organization. Meeting the MDG drinking-water and sanitation target: a mid-term assessment of progress. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization; 2004. Available at
  3. Prüss A, Kay D, Fewtrell L, Bartram J. Estimating the burden of disease from water, sanitation, and hygiene at a global level. Environ Health Perspect 2002;110:537--42.
  4. World Health Organization and United Nations Children's Fund. Global water supply and sanitation assessment 2000 report. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization; 2000. Available at
  5. Curtis V, Cairncross S. Effect of washing hands with soap on diarrhoea risk in the community: a systematic review. Lancet Infect Dis 2003;3:275--81.
  6. CDC. Safe water systems for the developing world: a handbook for implementing household-based water treatment and safe storage projects. Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services, CDC; 2001. Available at

* Defined as water supply via a household connection, public standpipe, borehole well, protected dug well, protected spring, or rainwater collection.

Use of trade names and commercial sources is for identification only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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.

Disclaimer   All MMWR HTML versions of articles are electronic conversions from ASCII text into HTML. This conversion may have resulted in character translation or format errors in the HTML version. Users should not rely on this HTML document, but are referred to the electronic PDF version and/or the original MMWR paper copy for the official text, figures, and tables. An original paper copy of this issue can be obtained from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO), Washington, DC 20402-9371; telephone: (202) 512-1800. Contact GPO for current prices.

**Questions or messages regarding errors in formatting should be addressed to

Page converted: 3/17/2005


Safer, Healthier People

Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1600 Clifton Rd, MailStop E-90, Atlanta, GA 30333, U.S.A


Department of Health
and Human Services

This page last reviewed 3/17/2005