Water is a precious and irreplaceable resource that has been given to the world’s inhabitants as a gift from nature, and it is just fair for us to positively reciprocate by valuing it. Thus, the World Water Day 2021 is under the theme “Valuing Water”.
World Water Day (WWD), which is marked on March 22 of every year as a UN observance day since 1993, is aimed at focusing on the importance of freshwater resources and the need to tackle the global water crisis such as raising awareness on the 2.2 billion people living without access to safe water. The Day is also to support the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6: Water and Sanitation for all by 2030.
It is significant to note that after 1993 other celebrations and events related to water have been added to the WWD and observed. For instance, the International Year of Cooperation in the Water Sphere 2013, and the current International Decade for Action on Water for Sustainable Development, 2018-2028. These observances serve to reaffirm that water and sanitation measures are key to poverty reduction, economic growth and environmental sustainability.
The WWD 2021 theme, “Valuing Water”, echoes how water should be held in high esteem at all times in order to meet the increasing human, agricultural, social, economic and environmental water demands as well as protect this vital resource at all times. In order to appreciate how water should be valued, the United Nations and World Bank High - Level Panel on Water Valuing developed the valuing water principles. These principles were launched in January 2019 under the Valuing Water Initiative (VWI) for implementation to bring about desired changes .
The World Water Day 2021 toolkit draws from the VWI and explains the different perspectives of which water should be valued, including the following:
1. Valuing water sources including natural water resources and ecosystems. All water is generated by ecosystems and all the water we abstract for human use eventually returns to the environment along with the contaminants we have added. Therefore, we should place higher value on protecting our water sources and the environment to ensure good quality water and to build resilience to shocks such as flood and drought.
2. Valuing water infrastructure for storage, treatment and supply. Water infrastructure stores, helps to clean and transmit water for use. Where water infrastructure may be inadequate, socio-economic development is undermined and our ecosystems are endangered. For example, typical valuations of water infrastructure tend to underestimate or do not include costs, particularly social and environmental costs.
3. Valuing water for drinking water, sanitation, and health (WASH) services. The role of water in households, schools, workplaces and health care facilities is critical. Furthermore, water, sanitation and hygiene services add value to our health, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. WASH services should aim at improving the situation of the poor and underserved communities rather than benefit people with existing water connection.
4. Valuing water as an input to production and socio-economic activity. Agriculture is the biggest demand on freshwater resources and a major contributor to environmental degradation. Water is fundamental to food security, but water in food production is generally given a low value when assessed in relation to water used. Many of the wider benefits such as improving nutrition, generating income, adapting to climate change and reducing migration are often not reflected in the cost of water. For the energy, industry and business sector, water-related threats such as water scarcity, flooding and climate change can disrupt and increase costs of production and should not be neglected. More organizations are now adopting integrated water resource management (IWRM) planning approaches as they improve their sustainability.
5. Valuing socio-cultural aspects of water in relation to recreational, cultural and spiritual attributes. Water can connect us with beliefs of creation, religion and community. It can also help us feel at peace. Indeed, water is an inherent part of every culture, but unfortunately water is often considered to be a resource mainly for practical human usage and therefore little or no attention is paid to its socio-cultural or environmental value. There is a need to fully understand cultural values around water by involving more diverse group of stakeholders in water resources management.
In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, let us come together to use water and soap against the coronavirus. Hand hygiene is essential to contain the spread of Covid-19, as well as other infectious diseases like cholera, measles. If you have access to soap and water, wash your hands regularly under running water and encourage everyone around you on the need to keep safe for a healthy Ghana.
Let us encourage one another to uphold this year’s WWD theme “Valuing Water” in high esteem. Do not allow the abuse of water, practice the habit of reusing water, desist from polluting water bodies, master courage and report water abusers to the right authorities and keep practicing the Covid-19 safety protocols.
By: Patricia Etornam Hlorbu
Source: Patricia Etornam Hlorbu
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