World Water Day
Today marks the 14th annual UN World Water Day. Clean water, the commodity most of us take for granted, is still extremely difficult to access in many parts of the world. Officials from 140 countries issued a declaration calling for a global campaign to ensure access to clean water, but stopped short of declaring a universal right to water.
"The lack of water or its poor quality kills 10 times more people than all the wars combined," Loic Fauchon, the head of the France-based World Water Council, said in opening a ministerial session. "Let us declare the right to water, without ambiguity, as an essential element of human dignity," Fauchon said.
A few facts about water:
*Water covers 75 per cent of the planet, 93 percent of that is sea water
*More than 90 percent of the fresh water is frozen in Antarctica
*Eighty per cent of our bodies are made of water
*More than one billion people have no access to clean water
*The average American family uses up to 176 gallons of water per day, while the average African family uses just five gallons
*More than 200 million hours are spent each day by women and female children walking to collect water -- often polluted water
*2.6 billion people do not have access to any kind of toilet or latrine
*Water-related diseases cause more than three million deaths a year, mostly of children younger than five
*Only $3 billion in aid a year goes to improve water access and sanitation and very little of that gets to the people who need it most, according to the UN
*Farming accounts for 70 percent of the water consumed and a majority of its waste
*Today alone, ten thousand children under five will die from an illness caused by dirty water
*320 million Chinese lack safe drinking water, according to the Chinese government
*Some 5.4 million children in Uganda, especially those who have been displaced by conflict in the north, do not have access to safe drinking water
*Private companies make more money selling bottled water than they ever did developing public water systems
*Sales of bottled water in China jumped by more than 250 percent between 1999 and 2004. They tripled in India and almost doubled in Indonesia, according to a study released by the Earth Policy Institute, a Washington-based environmental group. Worldwide, the industry is now worth about $100 billion per year.