Held annually on the 22nd March, World Water Day is an official United Nations event, coordinated by UN-Water in collaboration with governments and partners across the world. With the objective of raising awareness about the global water crisis, this year’s theme 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.
According to the UN, billions of people are still living without safe water – their households, schools, workplaces, farms and factories struggling to survive and thrive.
In particular, marginalised 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.
Back in 2010, the UN recognised “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.”
This 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.
However, as this year’s theme shows, people are being left behind when it comes to safe water. The UN sites the following as ‘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 marginalised groups through impacts on water.
This World Water Day the UN is urging governments around the world to ‘leave no one behind’, stating ‘We must focus our efforts towards including people who have been marginalised or ignored. Water services must meet the needs of marginalised 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.’
You can find out more on World Water Day by visiting www.unwater.org