World Water Day Emphasizes Sanitation
March 21, 2008 -- Today 2.6 billion people, including almost 1 billion children, live without basic sanitation. Every 20 seconds, a child dies as a result of poor sanitation, leading to 1.5 million preventable deaths each year.
The theme of this year's World Water Day is sanitation. Organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, activities will take place around the world to raise awareness and accelerate progress toward reducing the number of people without sanitation by half over the next seven years.
The United Nations estimates it will cost $10 billion annually to halve the proportion of people without basic sanitation by 2015. If sustained, the same investment could achieve basic sanitation for the entire world within one or two decades.
The National Academy of Sciences has worked with science, medical, and engineering academies worldwide on water issues. In 2007, NAS launched "Safe Drinking Water Is Essential," a Web resource to provide decision makers with peer-reviewed scientific and technical information about drinking water distribution and treatment options. Access to clean water also was the focus of last year's African Science Academy Development Initiative (ASADI) conference in Dakar, Senegal.
Another useful online resource, created by the National Research Council's Water Science and Technology Board, is the Water Information Center. The site provides free access to several hundred reports on water-related issues.