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World Water Day today: 1.1 bn lack access to water

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World Water Day today: 1.1 bn lack access to water
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Exclamation World Water Day today: 1.1 bn lack access to water - March 22nd, 2008

World Water Day today: 1.1 bn lack access to water

As the world celebrates World Water Day on Saturday, nearly 1.1 billion people lack access to safe drinking water, it requires 100 tonnes of water to produce one ton of grain and food security is under threat.

The UN, which has been celebrating World Water Day for last fifteen years, reported this week that the world's glaciers are melting at “an alarming rate." Like reservoirs, glaciers store water and then release it at predictable rates, around which humans have formed communities and built economies.

Achim Steiner, executive director of the United Nations Environment Program recently said, "Millions if not billions of people depend directly or indirectly on these natural water storage facilities for drinking water, agriculture, industry, and power generation during key parts of the year."

The lack of clean, safe drinking water is estimated to kill almost 4,500 children per day. In fact, out of the 2.2 million unsafe drinking water deaths in 2004, 90% were children under the age of five. Water is essential to the treatment of diseases, something especially critical for children.

Beyond that, millions of people (almost always women) wearily spend hours per day carrying water up to several miles for their family's needs because no source is close at hand.

The world water crisis is created by a confluence of factors including climate and geography, lack of water systems and infrastructure, and inadequate sanitation, something that 2.6 billion people (40% of the world’s population) lack access to.

The United Nations has prioritized water access as among its Millenium Development Goals.One of the UN's Millennium Development Goals, established in 2000, is to cut in half by the year 2015 the proportion of people unable to reach or afford safe drinking water.

As a result of shrinking glaciers, people will have to change their lifestyles, their farming, even move their homes, Mr. Steiner says. "While I'm always cautious about 'water wars,' certainly the potential for water to become a trigger for more tension and, where there's already conflict, to exacerbate conflict is another issue that's not hypothetical."

Global warming is raising ocean levels, meaning seawater will encroach on wetlands, rivers, and streams, according to recent reports by the US Environmental Protection Agency and the National Research Council (NRC), the research arm of the National Academy of Sciences.

Water required for generating bio-fuels is also much higher compared to generating natural gas or other conventional fuels. Conventional oil refineries use comparatively modest amounts of water, largely for cooling.

Lester Brown, head of the Earth Policy Institute think tank in Washington, is concerned that declining water supplies combined with the push for water-intensive biofuels could be a threat to global food security.

Seventy percent of all the water we use in the world – that we pump from underground or divert from rivers – is used in irrigation. Not everyone has connected the dots to see that a future of water shortages will be a future of food shortages.

Oceans splash across most of the earth's surface, but they contain saltwater, unfit for human consumption. Only about 2.5 percent of world water is drinkable.

Long before today’s water shortages, Benjamin Franklin said, “When the well is dry, [then] we know the worth of water."

Scarcity of water could also lead to cross-border tensions on a global scale as water traverses border through rivers, lakes and aquifers.

A new UN study shows that as temperatures have warmed, the world's glaciers have begun retreating at accelerating rates and may disappear entirely within a few decades.

China, India, and the West Coast of the United States are among populous places that rely on glacial meltwater for their water supply. Glaciers feed some of the world's great rivers, such as the Ganges, Yellow, and Mekong, which serve 1.5 billion people.

Governments and private groups are working hard to address the problem as well. One promising initiative in India uses ancient reservoirs, called erys, to collect rainwater.

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Sonali Arora
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Re: World Water Day today: 1.1 bn lack access to water - January 9th, 2009

I pledge to save every single drop of water......
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Dimpy Handa
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Re: World Water Day today: 1.1 bn lack access to water - October 24th, 2010

World Water Day 2010 activities was aimed to communicate messages on water quality, ecosystems and human well-being
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