Statement on World Water Day

Maria Otero
Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs 
Washington, DC
March 22, 2010


World Water Day Statement in Spanish»
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Today the United States recognizes World Water Day by renewing our belief that no child should ever die from water-borne illness, no war should ever be fought over water, and no person should go thirsty from lack of access to safe water.

The need for immediate, coordinated, active global action is clear.

Today, more than 880 million people lack access to safe drinking water; more than 2.6 billion lack access to basic sanitation. Diseases from unsafe water and poor sanitation are the second leading cause of death in children under five. Women and girls are disproportionately affected. In many regions of the world, women lose hours of potentially productive time each day in gathering water; girls drop out of school because of privacy concerns; and both often have to walk through unsafe or isolated areas to either collect water or use a latrine— increasing the likelihood of gender-based violence, trafficking and other harm.


Water also affects us in other ways. Without water we cannot produce the food we eat, maintain the energy we use, or sustain the environments in which we live. The number of people impacted by floods and droughts has increased across the globe. We are now facing the very real possibility that competition for scarce water resources may escalate into violent conflict.

Today, the United States is renewing its commitment to water. The Department of State and the Agency for International Development are strengthening our efforts to mitigate tensions associated with shared waters. We will also support developing country efforts to create and implement sound strategies that will provide for the needs of their people and ensure sound water resources management. We will seek to forge stronger partnerships, advance proven approaches, and focus on generating measureable results on-the-ground.

We cannot accept a world where people are dying from preventable water-related disease, where the lack of water becomes an impediment to social or economic development, and where the impacts of climate change become unmanageable.

Water is essential to everything we do. Like the air we breathe, we cannot live without it.

Today, we not only recognize water as the precious resource that it is, but we also affirm its significance as a global imperative for international focus and cooperation in the 21st century.