World Water Day: Seriously off track

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An important occasion has turned 30 this year. World Water Day is an annual event that has been held on March 22 every year since 1993. The day is meant to bring awareness to the fact that about 2 billion people around the world still don’t have access to clean water and sanitation. 

World Water Day is a United Nations initiative. The organization has stated this year that we are “seriously off track” to meet our goal of ensuring that the entire world has access to clean water and critical sanitation (such as toilets) by the year 2030. Few would disagree that water should be considered a human right, but providing it for everyone is a huge task. 

In what the UN is calling a “once in a generation” event, the UN 2023 Water Conference is currently underway (or has just passed, for those who read the paper late), being scheduled for March 22-24. The UN Water Conference is the first event of its kind for almost 50 years. Talking about water is one thing, but taking action on the water crisis is entirely another. For individuals, it seems so daunting that it is easy to forget or give up on. Few of us have the money or time to start drilling wells in areas that don’t have access to clean water, for example. 

The question is not what we can’t do, but rather what we can do. The United Nations lists the three most common and helpful actions that people living in North America can take to do their part in combating the water crisis. These actions are:

1) Save water: Take shorter showers and don’t let the tap run when brushing your teeth, doing dishes and preparing food.

2) Stop polluting: Don’t put food waste, oils, medicines and chemicals down the toilet or drains.

3) Eat local: Buy local, seasonal food and look for products made with less water.

Besides donating to charities that build wells and provide adequate sanitation in developing countries, such as the Kemptville-based Ryan’s Well Foundation, people can undertake the simple actions above to do their part in meeting the world’s water goals. 

When it comes to water shortages, we often think of situations in developing countries. However, it is also important to remember that many first nation reserves in Canada are also struggling with access to clean water. Providing clean water to everyone in Canada should be seen as just as important as providing clean water in developing countries. When it comes to clean water on reserves, only the federal government can take action, which means that we need to express to our representatives how important we think it is. 

Water is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. It’s time that we talk less, and do more to make sure that everyone on Earth has access to it. 

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