Message from Irina Bokova, Director-General of
UNESCO on the occasion of World Water Day: "Clean Water for a Healthy
World", 22 March 2010
Water is fundamental to life on earth. For human populations and
ecosystems to thrive, that water must be clean, it must stay clean and,
most importantly, it must be accessible to all.
World Water Day 2010 calls for "Clean Water for a Healthy World".
As we celebrate this Day, let us consider the facts. More than 2.5
billion people live without proper sanitation. An estimated 884 million
people, the majority of them in Africa, do not have access to safe
drinking water. Some 1.5 million children under five die each year from
sickness caused by water-borne diseases. The degradation of water
quality in rivers, streams, lakes, and groundwater systems has a direct
impact on ecosystems and human health. This state of affairs represents
an unspeakable human tragedy, and is also major obstacle to development.
Water-related sickness and the additional financial hardship it
brings, lowers the odds that a poor family will educate its children.
This, in turn, robs the next generation of the opportunity to improve
their own circumstances and break the cycle of poverty and deprivation
trapping them. Clean water and proper sanitation are where it all
starts. A key approach to addressing water quality challenges should be
based on pollution prevention, control and restoration strategies.
Numerous rivers, once the source of human prosperity and rich
wildlife, are now heavily polluted. The degradation of water quality in
surface and groundwater systems is further exacerbating water scarcity
and negatively impacting our natural environment and the ecosystem
services and goods that it provides, jeopardizing food security and
In these cost-cutting times, when economic difficulties
jeopardise investment in development, let us be clear that developmental
progress more than pays for itself. It has been estimated that
achieving the Millennium Development Goals for access to safe water and
sanitation would produce a global saving of more than $84 billion. We
already have the scientific knowledge to make immediate strides in the
provision of clean water and sanitation, provided the funding is there.
Researchers are developing new and ingenious ways of protecting surface
waters and groundwater systems from pollution, and ensuring better water