World Water Day: Saving our most precious resource

Across the world one in every three people do not have access to safe drinking water.  Even more shocking, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), at least 2 billion people use a drinking water source contaminated with faeces. In South Africa, 10% of the population have no access to piped water, which leaves nearly 6 million people vulnerable. This is an alarming number since water is a basic right for all, according to our constitution.

Hopefully creating awareness of these statistics on World Water Day will help support the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 6 – to achieve safe water and sanitation for all by 2030.

Water has always been an essential resource but lately, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been particularly important. During the outbreak, the South African government, taking its lead from the WHO, released clear guidelines on the importance of handwashing to protect against COVID-19.

While good handwashing practices have been possible for many, 6 million South Africans do not have safely managed sanitation services.

Life would not be possible without water. Here are some interesting facts on this precious resource:

  • While nearly 70 percent of the world is covered by water, only 2.5 percent of it is fresh.
  • 5% of the Earth’s water is salt water. If all water on the earth could fit in a bucket, only one teaspoonful would be drinkable.
  • About 40 percent of all the water used for irrigation comes from aquifers (a body of rock and/or sediment that holds groundwater).
  • Groundwater makes up 1.69% of all water found on Earth.
  • Groundwater also irrigates about half the world’s crops, it sustains rivers and wetlands, provides stability to the soil and prevents seawater intrusion.

The aim of World Water Day is to increase awareness about saving our most precious resource. Here are five ways to make each drop count:

  • While brushing teeth, washing hands or washing dishes, turn off the tap to avoid wasting extra water.
  • Collect rainwater and re-use it for watering plants or washing clothes.
  • Take a two-minute shower. Time your showers to your favourite song. When the song ends, so should your shower.
  • Regularly check taps and pipes for leaks and get them fixed to save wasting water.
  • If you wash dishes by hand, don’t leave the water running for rinsing.

World Water Day’s 2022 theme, “Making the invisible visible”, focuses on bringing attention to groundwater as a hidden water resource.  Groundwater is the water found underground in the cracks and spaces in soil, sand and rock, which is naturally refilled by rain is increasingly being viewed as an alternative resource in urban settlements. The “Making the invisible visible”, campaign aims to highlight the vital role groundwater can play in water and sanitation systems, agriculture industry, ecosystems and climate change adaptation.

Reference: Groundwater (csir.co.za)

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