The 2019 theme for World Water Day – Leaving No One Behind (Human Rights and Refugees).
World Water Day takes place each and every year on March 22nd, and aims to underline the importance of water. While this may sound simple – and, in many people’s eyes, a bit daft – the lack of clean water around the world, alongside the damaging effects of global warming, water pollution and damaged water tables, is more important to understand than ever.
The initiative is spearheaded by the UN, alongside UNESCO, the World Water Council and the WWF – the one with pandas, not the one with Macho Man Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan. Using the day as a basis for longer-term action, the UN aims to ensure that everyone in the world has access to safe water by 2030, while not impacting the environment.
What is the theme?
The theme for World Water Day 2019 is ‘Leaving no one behind’. This is an adaptation of the central promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: as sustainable development progresses, everyone must benefit.
How does it relate to water?
Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6) aims to ensure availability and sustainable management of water for all by 2030. By definition, this means leaving no one behind.
What is the problem
Today, billions of people are still living without safe water – their households, schools, workplaces, farms and factories struggling to survive and thrive.
Marginalized groups – women, children, refugees, indigenous peoples, disabled people and many others – are often overlooked, and sometimes face discrimination, as they try to access and manage the safe water they need.
What does safe water mean?
‘Safe water’ is shorthand for a ‘safely managed drinking water service’: water that is accessible on the premises, available when needed, and free from contamination.
Why is it important?
Whoever you are, wherever you are, water is your human right. Access to water underpins public health and is therefore critical to sustainable development and a stable and prosperous world. We cannot move forward as a global society while so many people are living without safe water.
What is the human right to water?
In 2010, the UN recognized “the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights.”
The human right to water entitles everyone, without discrimination, to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible and affordable water for personal and domestic use; which includes water for drinking, personal sanitation, washing of clothes, food preparation, and personal and household hygiene.
Why are people being left behind without safe water?
People are left behind without safe water for many different reasons. The following are some of the ‘grounds for discrimination’ that cause certain people to be particularly disadvantaged when it comes to accessing water:
- Sex and gender
- Race, ethnicity, religion, birth, caste, language, and nationality
- Disability, age and health status
- Property, tenure, residence, economic and social status
Other factors, such as environmental degradation, climate change, population growth, conflict, forced displacement and migration flows can also disproportionately affect marginalized groups through impacts on water.
What needs to be done?
To ‘leave no one behind’, we must focus our efforts towards including people who have been marginalized or ignored. Water services must meet the needs of marginalized groups and their voices must be heard in decision-making processes. Regulatory and legal frameworks must recognise the right to water for all people, and sufficient funding must be fairly and effectively targeted at those who need it most.
In South Africa, one company is tapping into an alternative source for drinking water to solve the growing challenge of water shortage and contamination by harvesting water from the moisture in the air. See below how the Water From Air Machine works and how it can benefit your home or work environment.