World Water Day 2011 Focuses on Urbanization

Each day it is estimated that more than 14,000 people die from the lack of water or diseases from contaminated water. Approximately 9,500 are children.  Many believe that water is a more important issue than oil.  Celebrated on March 22 and started by the United Nations in 1993, World Water Day’s objective is to focus attention on and advocate for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. 

This year’s theme is the impact of water on urban areas.  Why? Urbanization is a mega-trend with 50% of the world’s population today living in cities and that rate continues to grow.  Poor or developing nations have 93% of the urbanization with nearly 40% of the urban expansion in slums.   Africa and Asia have the highest rates of urbanization.  Not surprisingly, infrastructure including the management of water and waste has not kept up with this growth.  Lacking sustainable solutions to urban sanitation means that solid waste disposal poses a growing threat to health and the environment.  Integrated urban management in water reuse and recycling, treatment technologies, capture and conservation are needed for urban environments and to minimize downstream pollution.  Climate change is expected to significantly impact the quality and quantity of water resources as we deal with the impact of floods, droughts or other extreme weather events. 

The Chronicles Group is one organization focused on raising awareness and educating people about water.  Many have learned about global and local water crisis through their “Running Dry” series of documentaries.  Using their compelling educational media and network of supporters, they travel the world meeting with government officials, water experts, educators, activists and everyday people to try to save lives now and promote a healthier environment for future generations.    

Last year I had the privilege of attending a panel discussion of experts on water at the “Coping With Drought and Water Scarcity” event at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington DC.  I was invited by The Chronicles Group to co-author with Jim Thebaut and Eric Webb the executive summary of the session’s report to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  This report also contains detailed recommendations from each member of the panel.  Contact me for a copy of the report.

To learn more about water issues, view the Running Dry documentaries, including a preview of the upcoming “Running Dry:  Beyond the Brink” on their website at or access other useful resources and reading through their site at

To learn more about World Water Day and access additional reading and links, visit the website at



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