A Special Helium Contest Winner: World Water Day Celebrated With Parties, Workshops, Debate

By Debbie Lester

World Water Day was celebrated this year with festivals, workshops, mini-marathons and beach parties and it was the focal point of closing ceremonies at the World Water Forum in Istanbul, a gathering of more than 25,000 diplomats, government and corporate officials, members of non-governmental organizations and others dedicated to addressing the international water crisis The idea was to educate, entertain and enlighten people about the need for clean, safe drinking water for everyone in a world where more than 1 billion people struggle daily without reliable access to clean water and 2.5 billion people have no toilets.

World Water Day was established nearly 20 years ago by the United Nations as a way of raising awareness of the world water crisis. It is marked each year on March 22.

The United States, Europe and much of the rest of the developed world has an abundance of clean drinking water. But in poor countries, clean drinking water and toilets are often not available. The United Nations estimates that 5,000 people, mostly children, die every day from diseases picked up from contaminated water

As part of a broad approach to the world water crisis the United Nations designated the years 2005 through 2015 as The Decade For Action on water. Each year has been given a theme and in 2009 it is Transboundary Water, “Shared Water – Shared Opportunities.” Each year the UN chooses a lead organization. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization took the lead in celebrating World Water Day this year. They were supported by The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

The United Nations says there are 263 transboundary or cross-border bodies of water in more than 145 countries. The United Nations sees these as potential focal points for conflict. Koichiro Matsura, director-general of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization was quoted as saying at the World Water Forum that, “unless we change our water consumption behaviors, we will face a major crisis in fresh water.” World Water Day is one of the many tools the United Nations hopes may help bring people together and that may help reduce the water crisis.

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