The United Nations General Assembly declared 22nd March of each year World Water Day for water onDecember 22,1992.The day was first celebrated in 1993, in conformity with the recommendations of the United Nations conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) Agenda 21. During World Water Day countries promote Public awareness through the publication and diffusion of documentaries and the organization of conferences, round tables, seminars and expositions related to the conservation and development of water resources and the implementation of the recommendations of Agenda 21.
World Water Day - 22 March 2005 - marked the start of a new UN International Decade for Action on water. The Water for Life Decade 2005-2015 gave a high profile to implementing water-related programmes and the participation of women. It was expected that the Decade was boost the chances of achieving international water-related goals and the United Nations Millennium Declaration.
World Water Day 2011 will be guided by the international theme “Water for Cities: Responding to the Urban Challenge”. UN-WATER and UN-HABITAT are organising the day, content and key messages.
The Malawi Sub-theme will highlight the increasing significance of water worldwide and the need for increased integration and cooperation to ensure sustainable, efficient and equitable management of scarce water resources particularly in urban settings.
Equity and rights, cultural and ethical issues, are essential to be addressed when dealing with limited water resources. Imbalances between availability and demand, the degradation of ground and surface water quality, international disputes, all revolve around how to cope with water scarcity.
Water scarcity is first and foremost an issue linked to poverty. Unclear water and lack of sanitation are the destiny of poor people across the world. They affect poor children and families first, while the rest of the world’s population benefits from direct access to the water they need for domestic use. And the poor always pay more: people in the slums of developing countries typically pay for the water 5 to 10 times more than those who have access to piped water. For poor people, solving the water scarcity problem is about guaranteeing a fair and safe access to the water they need to sustain their lives.
But food security is also at stake, and it is in the rural areas of developing countries like Malawi, where a large majority of households produce their own food, that water scarcity affects people most. Smallholder farmers, who make up the majority of the world’s rural poor, often occupy marginal lands and depend mainly on rainfall to sustain their livelihoods. They are highly sensitive to the vagaries of climate. Already compounded by long-standing problems of land degradation and desertification, they face the very real world of water scarcity.
To achieve food security in a world of scarce water, farmers must find ways to produce more food with proportionally less water. It takes 1 000 to 2 000 litres of water to produce one kilo of wheat, and 13 000 to 15 000 litres to produce the same quantity of grain-fed beef. By comparison, the amount of daily drinking water required by one person is estimated at a mere 2 to 5 litres. And yet each day, we "eat" on average 2 000 litres of water. Thus the effective daily consumption of water per person is 1 000 times more than the apparent consumption through drinking. Without water we cannot produce, and simply we cannot eat.
Water and food are not only essential elements for life, they are both universally recognized human rights, and when it comes to securing the necessary environment to be able to feed oneself, the right to water and the right to food are intrinsically linked.
In addition, climate change, now a major international issue, is expected to account for about 20 percent of the global increase in water scarcity. Countries that already suffer from water shortages will be hit hardest. The impact of a changing climate will not only affect water availability but also worsen the extremes of droughts and floods. And even the increasing interest in bioenergy, if not well monitored, could result in further burden on scarce water resources.
Water plays a key role in achieving most of the Millennium Development Goals, including hunger and extreme poverty reduction, universal education, empowerment of women, improved health, environmental sustainability, and advancing partnership for development. A judicious management of increasingly scarce resources is needed if those goals are to be reached. With 2015 looming, concrete and responsible actions must be taken soonest. Progress remains too slow, and the number of hungry people in the world has stagnated around 850 million.
There are great opportunities to improve the ability of poor people to lift themselves out of poverty under conditions of greater water security and sustainability. With the right incentives and investments to mitigate risks for individual farmers, improving water control in agriculture holds considerable potential to increase food production and reduce poverty, while ensuring the maintaining of ecosystem services. Interventions need to be tailored to national and regional characteristics. In the short-term, small-scale water harnessing, irrigation and drainage works carried out at rural community level with local labour are a priority. Their cost is low, their technology is simple and their maintenance is easy. In the medium-term, well targeted investments in rural infrastructure, particularly small scale water control facilities, the upgrading of larger scale facilities and associated institutional reforms can boost rural productivity and develop local economies. Longer-term actions include the responsible and sustainable management of large river basins, for the benefit of economies as a whole.
The potential exists to provide adequate and sustainable supply of quality water for all, today and in the future. But there is no room for complacency, and it is our common responsibility to take the challenge of today's global water crisis and address it in all of its aspects and dimensions.
At the international level, countries need to increase their cooperation in dealing with the management of transboundary water, focusing on negotiations and dialogue and on the quest to optimize the overall social and economic benefits of equitable and sustainable water use. At the national level, policies and institutions need adapting in order to address competing uses in a fair and equitable way. At the local level, besides investments in water control facilities, better management practices are needed in all fields, leading to increased sustainability and equity in access to water. At all three levels, the development of effective conflict-resolution mechanisms has become increasingly important.