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International Community Observes World Water Day

U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson on Thursday “launched a call for urgent action to end the crisis of 2.5 billion people without basic sanitation, and to change a situation in which more people worldwide have mobile phones than toilets,” the U.N. News Centre reports (3/21). Noting “[t]he move is part of activities to mark the World Water Day,” observed on March 22, Al Jazeera writes, “The initiative aims to cut the 3,000 children under five who die each day from waterborne diseases like cholera, dysentery and diarrhea, and the 2.5 billion people without access to a toilet” (3/22). “Almost 90 percent of child deaths from diarrheal diseases are directly linked to contaminated water, lack of sanitation, or inadequate hygiene,” UNICEF states in a press release (3/22).

In a separate press release, the agency notes “that poor people in rural areas are overwhelmingly those without these most basic necessities for life” and “called on governments to pay particular attention to those who are being left behind in their countries’ progress, especially with regard to access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation” (3/22). In related news about the day, UNICEF “said Friday that poor drinking water quality and open defecation in rural areas are contributing to high child malnutrition rates in Cambodia,” Xinhua reports (3/22). In an article on the agency’s webpage, UNICEF examines water and sanitation issues in the Loreto region of Peru (Dolan, 3/21). In another article, UNICEF reports on efforts to improve the safety of water in Haiti (Marion, 3/21). A BBC News video report examines water issues in Asia (3/21).