World Water Day 2014

USAID: From the American People

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Photo of a child splashing water in hands.

World Water Day

March 22, 2014

The impact of water on all aspects of development is undeniable: A safe drinking water supply, adequate sanitation and hygiene, management of water resources, and improvement of water productivity can help change the lives of millions.

Sustainable use of water is critical to save lives, promote development and achieve humanitarian goals. Projections are that by 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population could be living in severe water stress conditions. This stress adversely affects individuals, communities, economies and ecosystems around the world, especially in developing countries. On March 22, World Water Day, we rededicate ourselves to saving lives and advancing development through improvements in water supply, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programs, and through sound management and use of water for food security. Follow the conversation on Twitter by using the hashtag #WorldWaterDay and following @USAIDGH. Check out the new USAIDGH Facebook gallery showing the importance of water in people’s lives globally.

Below, we highlight solutions to address water problems – some simple, and others more complex.


Keeping water clean for up to 72 hours

The consequences of unsafe water are devastating. In just 1 day, more than 1,900 children die as a result of diarrheal diseases associated with poor quality water, lack of sanitation facilities and inadequate supplies of water for hygiene. Read: Chlorine to Save Lives.

Modular design allows latrines to fit where they are needed most

Waste in slums, where toilets are not hooked up to sewage infrastructure, is often spilled or dumped into open waterways, risking thousands of lives. Read: Franchising Human Waste in Kenya’s Slums.

Lilik Amana shows off her new piped-water connection.

In poor neighborhoods, a major barrier to accessing safe, clean, piped water in individual homes is cost. More than 50 municipalities across Indonesia’s archipelago make access to safe water available to 2 million city dwellers and improved sanitation to 200,000. Read: Safe Water, Sanitation Reaching Indonesia’s Urban Poor.

Tenants in Nakuru enjoy the convenience and affordability of using public prepaid meters. Jane Maina was one the first landlords" title="Tenants in Nakuru enjoy the convenience and affordability of using public prepaid meters. Jane Maina was one the first landlords to sign up for the installation of public prepaid meters in her compound with 43 houses. All her tenants immediately signed up for the token that gives them access to clean and affordable water.

USAID is supporting a Kenyan utility company and a private-sector lender to pilot low-cost water meters that provide safe, reliable and affordable water solutions for the urban poor. Read: Can Water Meters Ease Kenya’s Supply Woes?

A family stands in front of their rainwater harvesting tank.

It’s Sri Lanka’s version of “Back to the Future” as some of its citizens embrace rainwater harvesting, a practice dating back to the 5th century that today has a 21st century enviro-friendly appeal. Read: For Rural Sri Lanka, Ancient Technology Eases Water Woes.

Young men from Zulpuev municipality clear the irrigation canal so thousands of farmers can receive water to maintain their crop

To receive irrigated water in a fair and timely manner, farmers renovate a Soviet-era irrigation system, bringing 10,000 hectares of farmland back to life. Read: Water and Hope Flow Back into Kyrgyzstan’s Hard-Hit South.

Workers fuse pipes together in Goma. 

Though the water is dangerous in Goma in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), families drink it, risking cholera and other water-borne diseases, since there are no (or few) alternative water sources for drinking, washing and cooking. But the overhaul of dilapidated infrastructure means a lasting source of water comes to hundreds of thousands of the DRC’s most vulnerable. Read: A New Life for Goma’s Water System.

Photo of a woman with a jug of water on her head.

Our Water and Development Strategy steers USAID’s water programs toward key themes consistent with two of the most important ways we rely on water: water for health and water for food. Read: USAID Water and Development Strategy 2013–2018 [PDF, 1.9MB].

Photo credit: Georgetown Public Policy Review