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Water, like air, is a basic human necessity; but both are often taken for granted. While many measures have been instituted worldwide to curtail the many effects of air pollution, the world’s population at large fails to give much thought to water and its availability. It requires a large-scale disaster – the Exxon Valdez oil spill, for instance – to incite both concern and action while more than 1 billion people are without access to safe drinking water. According to reports from the United Nations, this number continues to rise.
In an effort to increase the public’s awareness of conservation, preservation, and protection of the world’s water resources through increased government, international agency and private sector involvement, the United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development established World Water Day in 1992. Cooperation and coordination among these groups exists not only to protect and preserve current water supplies, but to ensure our children and our children’s children will have access to safe water resources, including drinking water.
Strategies for achieving this participation include:
o Promoting mass media education programs;
o Placing the focus on educating school children and youth;
o Organizing conferences, round tables, seminars and expositions related to conservation and the development of water resources;
o Promoting community and self-help programs; and
o Increasing public and private sector support through collaboration and participation in the World Water Day celebrations.
"Water and Disasters" is the theme of World Water Day 2004. With events organized by the United Nation’s International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UN/ISDR) and the World Meteorological Organization, World Water Day 2004 will focus on how weather, climate and water resources can have a dramatic and oftentimes devastating effect on the socio-economic development of both people and places throughout the world.
In an effort to kick-start the campaign aimed at reducing the impact of natural, environmental and man-made disasters, the UN/ISDR launched the World Disaster Reduction Campaign in October 2003. Designed to raise awareness of available options to reduce the impacts of water-related disasters, the campaign goes a step further by providing the public with information allowing them to take an active role in implementing risk reduction strategies. These topics will be the major focus of World Water Day 2004.