SA celebrates National Water Week 2020

South Africa marked the World Water Day with week-long activities, from 16-22 March, aiming to focus public attention on the imperative to save the limited freshwater resources.

According to the United Nations (UN), “World Water Day celebrates water and raises awareness of the 2.2 billion people living without access to safe water”. Its principal emphasis is supporting the realisation of the world body’s Sustainable Development Goal 6, which is water and sanitation for all by 2030.

“The idea for this international day goes back to 1992, the year in which the (UN) Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro took place,” according to the world body. “That same year, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution by which 22 March of each year was declared World Day for Water, to be observed starting in 1993.”

South Africa is a particularly water-stressed country with an annual rainfall of 492ml, which is about half the international average of 985ml. Hence the country leverages the yearly World Water Day to run a protracted awareness programme, the National Water Week.

With the renewed attention on water that comes with the yearly event, The Department of Water and Sanitation has urged South Africans to use the resource sparingly to ensure Water For All.

UN figures paint a grim picture of the global water situation. They indicate, among other things, that ‘’one-in-three people live without safe drinking water (and that) by 2050 up 5.7 billion people could be living in areas where water is scarce for at least one month a year”.

The world body has adopted, Nature and Climate Change, as the theme for this year’s World Water Day given the inexorable connection between water and climate change. “If we limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, we could cut climate-induced water stress by up to
50%,” the UN stays.

“Climate-resilient water supply and sanitation could save the lives of more than 360,000 infants every year. By adapting to the water effects of climate change, we will protect health and save lives.”

The UN posits that efficient use of water would alleviate change while easing droughts, pollution, floods and scarcity. Further, it would cut greenhouse-gas emissions and its concomitant adverse effects, citing the example of extreme weather accounting for more than 90% of major disasters over the last decade.