21 Facts for the 21st Annual World Water Day

This past Saturday, March 22nd, marked the 21st annual World Water Day.  What is World Water Day, you ask? World Water Day has been held annually on March 22nd since 1993, when the United Nations General Assembly designated the day as the first World Water Day.  World Water Day is an opportunity to focus on the importance of access to freshwater for everyone on the planet and to highlight the millions of people living without access to clean water around the globe.  This year’s World Water Day focused on the intersection of water and energy, and the crucial impacts both have on alleviating poverty worldwide.

In honor of the 21st annual World Water Day, here are 21 facts about water in our world:

  1. Only 2.53% of the world’s water is fresh.
  2. Some two-thirds of that 2.53% fresh water is locked up in glaciers and permanent snow covers.
  3. 768 million people worldwide lack access to safe drinking water worldwide.
  4.  2.5 billion people live without a decent toilet.
  5. In Europe and Central Asia, 94.07% of people have access to sanitation facilities…
  6. But in sub-Saharan Africa, only 30.45% of people have access to sanitation facilities.
  7. The average of people worldwide who have access to sanitation facilities is 63.5%.
  8. Of the 45 most water-stressed countries in the world, 35 of them are located in Africa.
  9. By 2025, 2 out of 3 people will live in a situation of water-stress.
  10. Water-related diseases are among the leading causes of preventable child deaths throughout the world; diarrhea and pneumonia, the two leading killers of children aged one month to five years, can be prevented by improving access to safe drinking water, sanitary conditions and hygienic practices.
  11. 1,400 children under five die each day from causes linked to lack of safe water, sanitation and hygiene.
  12. An estimated 200 million hours are spent each day globally collecting water.
  13. In 76% of households, women and children bear the primary responsibility for water collection.
  14. 443 million school days are lost each year due to water-related diseases.
  15. About half of all girls worldwide attend school without a toilet.
  16. Many girls drop out of school when they reach puberty because of a lack of privacy.
  17. Demand for food, water, and energy is expected to increase 30%-50% in the next 20 years.
  18.  Agriculture accounts for 70% of water withdrawal worldwide.
  19. In 2010, the United Nations declared that safe and clean drinking water and sanitation is a human right essential to the full enjoyment of life and all other human rights.
  20. Poor water and sanitation have a heavy economic cost—some estimates say that the developing world could save as much as $263 billion a year from providing basic, low-cost water and sanitation facilities.
  21. Hydroelectricity is the largest renewable source for power generation and its share in total electricity generation is expected to remain around 16% through 2035.

Jewish tradition includes an incredibly rich history with water: Rebecca was chosen as Isaac’s wife at a well, the baby Moses was rescued by the Pharaoh’s daughter after floating down a river, the Israelites walked through the Red Sea after escaping Egypt and Miriam sustained the Jewish people in the desert with her mystical source of water.  World Water Day is the perfect time to appreciate our relationship with water and think about the ways we can impact the 768 million people worldwide who still lack access to safe and clean drinking water.

For more information, check out these resources:

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Deborah Goldberg

About Deborah Goldberg

Deborah Goldberg is an Eisendrath Legislative Assistant. She graduated in 2013 from Washington University in St. Louis and is originally from Deerfield, IL where she is a member of Congregation B'nai Jehoshua Beth Elohim.

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