On 22 March, UN-Water will kick-off its annual World Water Day – a chance for people who live in comfort to raise awareness and aid the lives of those who aren’t so fortunate.

We are fortunate to live in the developed world, If we are cold, we can simply turn up the central heating. If we fall ill, we can take time off work and seek help from a doctor. If we are hungry, we readily have access to supermarkets and restaurants.

However, there are still many parts of the world where access to the most basic utilities, such as clean water, are not guaranteed.

Taking a stand

Since 1993, the United Nations General Assembly has triumphed World Water Day as an excellent way to raise awareness regarding the importance of sustainable freshwater resources around the world.

UN-Water – an inter-agency entity who aim to ensure that fresh sanitary water reaches those who need it – has been, since 2003, instrumental in the organisation of the worldwide event.

They introduce a theme each year, to encourage member nations of the UN to push for access to cleaner water in developing nations, as well as helping society learn about and discuss the importance of effective water management.

This year, the theme is ‘Why wastewater?’, in an effort to change the public perception on the significance of recycled water in line with achieving the sixth Sustainable Development Goal.

Every year, over 80% of wastewater from homes, industries and farming finds its way back into the ecosystem without being treated. For those who live in rural areas, this wastewater would be an excellent source of plant food, but with many companies flouting environmental law, much of this water is unusable due to poisonous chemicals.

Moreover, water that could be recycled in order to recover nutrients is still ignored by many governmental bodies who fail to see the benefits of waste being repurposed.

Why is World Water Day so important?

The 2017 campaign for World Water Day aims to enlighten member nations as to the economic and financial benefits of re-using treated wastewater. The above-mentioned ideals hold true especially for countries who are deeply affected by famine, where the scarcity of water can often lead to the loss of both livestock and human lives.

Around the world, there are 1.8 billion people around the world whose main supply of water is contaminated. For many of these individuals, they have two choices – either trek long distances daily to find a more trustworthy water source, or risk death through cholera, typhoid or other fatal conditions.

The key to wastewater management is to ensure that industries are regulated with a focus on their attitude to environmentalism. There are many examples where increased levels of care with regards to wastewater can actually benefit a company. For instance, in Denmark the energy company Statoil provides 700,000 cubic metres of water to the Asnæs Power Station, where it is used as coolant instead of being flushed away.

How can I contribute?

The charity WaterAid has a great scheme for donations, with 76p out of every £1 being sent directly to where it is needed, and the remaining 24p used to promote further awareness regarding the water crises around the world.