Written by Christian Holmes, USAID’s Global Water Coordinator
As we enter World Water Week 2011, it is a good time to reflect on the significance of this vital resource that we often take for granted here in the United States, but is such a precious commodity in many other parts of the world.
For me, World Water Week most importantly and fundamentally is about the harsh reality of life and death. It is staggering, almost beyond comprehension, that each day approximately 6,000 people, most children under five, die from preventable diarrheal diseases and that diarrheal disease remains the second leading cause of death in children worldwide. Yet, that is the case. These children die in a world where over 800 million people lack access to an improved water source and more than two and a half billion people lack access to sanitation. This is the world we have to change.
But change is possible. This is also a world where individuals and organizations have the skills and resources to make extraordinary differences in the lives of others. A great many of these people have come together in Washington this week to express their commitment to saving and improving lives and to helping sustain the environment in which people live and on which they are dependent. In so doing, much of the week involves important activities related to sharing and learning about approaches which will improve our ability to reduce the loss of life and human suffering.
I’ll be participating in a number of events which I’m convinced will help lead to change.
On March 22 I’ll be at a World Bank World Water Day Cross Sectoral Working Group on WASH and Healthy Ecosystems: Advancing Freshwater Management Through Integrated WASH Programming.
Also on March 22, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will join World Bank president Robert Zoellick to sign a Memorandum of Understanding between the Bank Group and the US Government to expand and enhance our collaboration in the water sector. USAID Deputy Administrator Don Steinberg will also participate, and the event will be webcast live.
On March 23, I’ll join NGO colleagues on the Hill as part of World Water Advocacy Day.
I look forward to sharing thoughts and impressions of these events with you as the week progresses.