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March 22 is World Water Day

Over 1 billion people around the world live without access to safe, clean drinking water. Photo courtesy of Plan staff.
Over 1 billion people around the world live without access to safe, clean drinking water.

Photo courtesy of Plan staff.
March 22, 2010

World Water Day is held annually on March 22nd as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources worldwide.

This year’s theme is “Clean Water for a Healthy World.” The campaign aims to raise awareness of the lack of clean, safe drinking water and the need to improve water quality worldwide. It hopes to encourage governments, organizations and communities to actively engage in addressing water quality through pollution prevention, clean up and restoration.

The global water crisis

Access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation is necessary for health, income generation, poverty alleviation, gender equality, human rights and personal dignity.

Yet, over 1 billion people around the world live without clean drinking water, 2.6 billion people lack basic sanitation, and 4 billion live in conditions where wastewater is discharged untreated into local water bodies. Water-borne diseases also kill more than 1.5 million children each year. If current trends continue, by 2025 two-thirds of the world's population won't have enough clean water.

Plan's response

In each of its program countries, Plan has implemented water and sanitation programs, as well as community-based organizations to ensure the continued management and maintenance of water points. In 2008, Plan invested approximately $43 million in the construction or upgrade of water services/points and latrines in thousands of communities around the world.

In urban areas, Plan focuses on linking public utility companies to populations through network expansions. In Bafata, Guinea Bissau, for example, Plan worked in partnership with the Ministry of Natural Resources to rehabilitate a water tower to provide people with a safe water supply system. In rural areas, Plan works closely with the community to design and build water and sanitation facilities that utilize unskilled labor, local materials and low-cost traditional technology.

In both rural and urban areas, Plan actively promotes good hygiene practices and proper sewage disposal means. In Asia and East and Southern Africa, Plan has pioneered a new approach - Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS), which educates communities about the importance of sanitation and helps them to construct and maintain their own latrines. Plan also utilizes low-cost technologies for point-of-use water treatment such as water purifiers and chlorine treatments.  

Learn more about Plan’s water and sanitation programs.