22 March 2010

World Water Day: Stand Up for Water and Sanitation?

Today, March 22, 2010, is World Water Day, an attempt to raise awareness about the importance of clean water and the thousands of people who still do not have access to clean, healthy water resources.

World Water Day is an initiative that grew out of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro.  Each year, it has a different sanctioned theme, determined by the UN Water Group.  This year's theme is "Clean Water for a Healthy World."

Clean water scarcity is a serious situation affecting more than 2.5 billion people.  Lack of access to clean water and basic sanitation leads to more deaths among children than malaria, HIV/AIDS and TB combined, according to the UN. 

In addition 4000 children under the age of five die every day from preventable water-related illnesses such as diarrhoea, typhoid, cholera and dysentery.

Serious stuff and in need of attention.  It's hard to believe that in the 21st century some parts of the world are without simple sanitation and access to water.  World Water Day is an attempt to shed light on this problem.

In one of the sillier actions associated with the "celebration" this year, a coalition led by the group End Water Poverty, along with Freshwater Action Network, and the IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre has organized a Guinness World Record attempt to form the world's largest toilet queue.

To participate, you need to gather at least 25 people and have them wait on line to use the bathroom in a public place from 10 minutes up to 24 hours.

What seems like a joke from the days of Monty Python is actually a "serious" attempt to capture the imaginations of the caring public and the World Record.  (And you wonder why I'm a skeptic!)

(Did you know there was a record for longest toilet waiting line? The current record for an individual queue stands at over 868 people, according to organizars.)

Remember: don't cut in line and wash your hands after you go.