Ahoy, me hearties! Arrrr you excited about World Water Day? Well … arrrr ye?
Begad, mateys! Do tell me ye know what the fuss is all about? Why, today is the one day a year wherein we celebrate the briny (and non-briny) deep as we should all year. I daresay, ’tis the best holiday of ’em all. (OK, perhaps the second best.) So sing a chantey, grab a noggin of rum, and let’s yo-ho-ho, if ye know what I mean.
Recognized formally for the first time in 1993, the World Day for Water was designated by the United Nations as a yearly commitment by member nations to devote time to implementing U.N. recommendations and promoting concrete activities related to water issues. Last year’s World Water Day marked the start of the second “U.N. International Decade for Action: Water for Life.” (During the first U.N. decade on water in 1981-1990, it’s estimated that more than a billion people gained access to safe drinking water.)
Wanting to get in on all the U.N. action, NGOs have used the holiday to push for clean water and sustainable aquatic habitats (that’d be where the “something fishy” comes in). There are events going on everywhere, but one of the major haps is the 4th World Water Forum that’s been going on in Mexico City since March 16. Held every three years by the World Water Council, these forums are international arenas for open dialogue on water-related policy-making. And, as you may have noticed (as pirates of the über-informed variety), there’s always much buzz in the media about water issues during one of these forums — which is exactly the idea, I suppose.
Even the godly have gotten involved in the water wars. The Ninth Assembly of the World Council of Churches has called on their religious brethren to “work together to preserve and protect water resources against over-consumption and pollution.” Which totally makes sense, because What else Would Jesus Drink?
Seriously, though, ye lads and lassies, why all the ruckus about H2O? A few facts to wet your whistle:
- More than a billion people are without adequate sewage and sanitation, according to the U.N.
- More than 3 million deaths a year are blamed on water-borne disease.
- Some 1.7 million of those deaths could be prevented with better sanitation.
But why, you ask, as a lover of all things fishy, should you care about sewage and sanitation in some far-off (or not so far-off, in some cases) land? Well, where do you think that untreated sewage goes? It doesn’t just go “away.” It flows out to creeks and rivers and eventually to the ocean. Or it seeps into the soil and makes its way down to the water table and out to the ocean that way. And let’s not forget about the incredible water cycle — oh, the water cycle! — involving runoff and precipitation and sublimation and evapotranspiration and lots of other “-ations.” So really, inadequate sewage treatment in Africa or India — or even next door — is a little fish issue in the big giant pond of ocean issues, if you get my drift.
And speaking of little fish, I’ll now share with you some inspiring stories from the Children’s Water Forum being held parallel to the big grownup one.
- Suresh Baral, 13, leads a club in rural Nepal that helps communities pay for toilets through microfinancing;
- as leader of Nigeria’s Children Parliament, 15-year-old Ibrahim Adamuy implores government officials to put aside their “mounds of paper” and talk about solutions;
- Anyeli González, 16, heads a program at her high school in Colombia that brings in local storytellers, puppeteers, and water company executives to raise environmental awareness;
- 9th-grader Happy (!) Sisomphone (!!) directs a radio program in Laos to improve sanitation.
So now that ye been informed, depressed, inspired, and overall made aware of the partying to be had today in honor of the water of the world, I suggest ye get back to celebratin’. As fer myself, I’ll be appreciatin’ the fact that I have access to good, clean water and, uh, a poopdeck. I shall return in a fortnight, dear mateys. ‘Til then: Godspeed!