World Water Day: truths as crystal-clear as water

World Water Day: truths as crystal-clear as water
Fecha de publicación: 
23 March 2023
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More than 800 thousand people will die this year, as it has been happening, by diseases directly linked to unsafe drinking water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene practices, while nearly 3.6 billion people, almost half of the world population, face water shortage problems.

These are realities, and not the only ones of this type, in which the 2023 Water Conference is inscribed, which takes place at the UN headquarters from March 22-24.

It is no coincidence that the world meeting begins today. The World Water Day is celebrated on March 22, and its goal is to raise awareness among all and promote actions to face the water and sanitation crisis the world is experiencing.

Consistent with these purposes, the Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres, has pinned great hopes on the Conference on Water that begins today and that "must result in a bold Water Action Agenda that gives the soul of our world the commitment it deserves," he says.

And the truth is that this meeting, the first of the UN that focuses on water since 1977, is considered a "unique opportunity," which could decisively advance the promise of universal access to drinking water and sanitation by the year 2030.

To meet this and other goals, this world meeting will be structured around five key areas related to water resources:

1. Water for health: Access to drinking water, hygiene and sanitation

2. Water for sustainable development: Valuation of water, water-energy-food connection and sustainable economic and urban development

3. Water for climate, resilience and the environment: From the source to the sea, biodiversity, climate, resilience, disaster risk reduction

4. Water for cooperation: cross-border and international cooperation on water, intersectoral cooperation and water in the 2030 Agenda

5. Water Decade of Action: Accelerate the implementation of the goals of the Decade, including through the UN Secretary General's Action Plan

It is obvious to remember that water is at the center of sustainable development, essential for the sustenance of life, and its access is actually a human right; but, despite truths as clear as water itself, the UN assures that "decades of mismanagement and misuse have intensified water stress, threatening many aspects of life that depend on this crucial resource."

These and other reasons have led to an alarming world panorama regarding water:

-According to WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Program for Water Supply and Sanitation, at least 2 billion people in the world drink water that may be exposed to contamination from faeces. An even larger number consume water that is distributed through systems vulnerable to other types of contamination.

-Children's diarrhea -associated with water scarcity, inadequate sanitation, water contaminated with pathogens and lack of hygiene- causes the death of 1.5 million children a year, most of them under five years old and living in developing countries

-By 2050, more than 5 billion people are expected to have inadequate access to water for at least one month a year

-The negative impacts of climate change on water are increasing at an accelerated rate, threatening sustainable development, biodiversity and people's access to water and sanitation. Since 2000, floods have increased by 134% and the duration of droughts by 29%

-Water scarcity could displace some 700 million people by the year 2030

-Nearly 3 billion people on this planet lack basic handwashing facilities at home.

-According to ECLAC, in Latin America and the Caribbean each person has, as a trend, a water availability four times greater than the world average. However, the region suffers from high water stress, especially in large cities and areas of greatest economic activity and it will take about 51 billion dollars a year for 10 years to provide universal access to water and safe sanitation for all.

Water in Cuba

The event Cubagua 2023 starts in Cuba today, coinciding with this World Water Day and also with the opening of the UN Conference on Water 2023.

Organized by the National Institute of Hydraulic Resources (INRH) and the Hydraulic Engineering Society of the National Union of Architects and Construction Engineers of Cuba, it will be in session until March 25 at the Pabexpo fairgrounds, as "an opportunity to reduce the technological gaps and thus take advantage of hydraulic resources, in addition to discovering saving mechanisms for the efficient and productive use of the essential liquid,” according to the first vice president of INRH, Bladimir Matos Moya, president of the event organizing committee.

According to the report of the weekly Opciones, Cubagua 2023 will facilitate technical exchange, promoting the Sustainable Development Goals. Therefore, it brings together academics, researchers, designers, students linked to the development of hydraulics, Cubans residing abroad, MSMEs, non-agricultural cooperatives, self-employed workers and other economic players who will share their experiences for a more rational, productive and sustainable use of hydraulic resources.

This year, investments continue in Cuba to improve the supply of water to the population and the economy of the country, which, among multiple aspects, will translate into the development of the hydro-sanitary infrastructure that will benefit over 22,000 people, with particular impact in the provinces of Guantánamo, Las Tunas, Havana, Santiago de Cuba, Holguín and Camagüey.

This is how Denis Moreno Ríos, main specialist of the INRH Infrastructure and Investment Directorate, has informed the CAN, while he added that they will also work in 53 areas corresponding to flood points. 37 of those flood points had been solved since last year.

The investment process in the hydraulic sector has been challenged by the tightening of the blockade imposed by the United States government, also by natural disasters and the domestic economic situation, but the support of the territorial authorities as well as resources allocated by the State have made it possible the execution of impact works for the benefit of the population, especially in vulnerable neighborhoods, and allowed to guarantee the main activities of the national economy as well as reduce the effects of the dry period (November-April).

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Díaz / CubaSí Translation Staff

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