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World Water Day --- March 22, 2010

Each year, on March 22, World Water Day directs international attention to the conservation and development of water resources and aims to increase public engagement in addressing water-quality issues. The theme for this year's observance, Clean Water for a Healthy World, focuses on water-quality challenges and the importance of water quality in sustaining healthy ecosystems and communities.

Water is the most important resource for sustaining ecosystems, which provide food and other life-supporting benefits for persons, animals, and plants (1). Because contaminated water is a major cause of illness and death, water quality is a determining factor in human poverty, educational attainment, and economic opportunity (2).

Approximately 884 million persons do not have access to improved sources of drinking water (i.e., water that is supplied through a household connection, public standpipe, borehole well, protected dug well, protected spring, or rain water collection); others obtain drinking water from improved, but microbiologically unsafe, sources. In addition, approximately 2.5 billion persons lack access to improved sanitation (3), which also leaves them at risk for waterborne diseases. Worldwide, approximately 1.5 million children die each year from diarrheal illnesses that are caused by unsafe water, poor sanitation, and inadequate hygiene (3).

To improve water quality, the prevention or minimization of water pollution is critical, as are specific household and community-level interventions. CDC is engaged in improving drinking water quality around the world and helping to prevent disease caused by unsafe drinking water.

Additional information about water quality and World Water Day activities is available at and


  1. United Nations Environmental Programme. Report: water security and ecosystem services: the critical connection. Nairobi, Kenya: Nations Environmental Programme; 2009 Available at Accessed March 9, 2010.
  2. World Water Assessment Programme. The 3rd United Nations World Water Development Report: water in a Changing World (WWDR-3). Paris, France: UNESCO, and London, England: Earthscan; 2009. Available at Accessed March 9, 2010.
  3. World Health Organization; UNICEF. Progress in drinking-water and sanitation: special focus on sanitation. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization, and New York, NY: UNICEF; 2008. Available at Accessed March 9, 2010.

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