World Water Day 2023: accelerating change to solve the water and sanitation crisis

With the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 the global community committed to ensure clean water and sanitation for all by 2030. At the moment, we’re seriously off-track and thus this year’s World Water Day (WWD) is a reminder for everyone to take action and accelerate change.

Water is a vital resource – without water, life on earth is not possible. Moreover, a dysfunctional water cycle is undermining achievements in other sectors such as health, hunger, gender equality, economic development and climate change. Nevertheless, access to clean water and safe sanitation services remain a substantial challenge for communities around the globe. Nevertheless, around 3.6 billion people globally remain without access to safely managed sanitary facilities. 1.4 million people die annually and 74 million will have their lives shortened by diseases related to poor water, sanitation and hygiene. Financial resources and knowledge that are required to renovate, build, operate, and maintain sanitary facilities are often missing. In addition, the importance of safe hygiene practices for human health and well-being is commonly overlooked and vulnerable and disadvantaged groups are particularly affected.

In occasion of World Water Day 2023, Sanitation for Millionsorganized campaigns and programmes in its partner countries to raise awareness and to encourage people and counterparts to take action and accelerate change!

In Uganda, the situation is very special: Uganda does not only celebrate World Water Day, but they celebrate the Uganda Water and Environment Week (UWEWK), organized by the Ugandan Ministry of Water and Environment. The UWEWK seeks to contribute towards the attainment of sustainable socio-economic transformation and achieving the Ugandan National Development Plan. It provides an interface between different stakeholders for knowledge, information and idea exchange, dialoguing and learning for improvement of the country’s water and environment resources. It is a week full of activities and programmes to raise awareness and to implement new projects and measures referring to water!

At a kick-off event, the chairperson of the Parliamentary WASH forum Honorable Silas Agon visited a stall that was hosted jointly by Sanitation for Millions, Water and Sanitation for Refugee Uganda (WatSSUP) and the Natural Resources Stewardship Programme Uganda (NatuReS). On Thursday, 16th March a Sanitation Financing Workshop took place. Keynote speaker Barbara Gerhager (GIZ), together with some panelists and the audience, discussed the topic “To be or not to be – the dilemma of household incentives for scaling-up safely managed sanitation”. The speakers conclude by agreeing that incentives will increase access to safely managed sanitation. Besides, Sanitation for Millions, together with the International Water Association (IWA) and the Uganda Ministry of Water and Environment, published two case studies on “Town Sanitation Planning: Towards inclusive safely managed sanitation in Northern Uganda” and “Financing incentives for improved access to safe household sanitation in Northern Uganda”.

In Jordan, Sanitation for Millions joined the Jordanian Ministry of Water and Irrigation in the celebration of World Water Day. Together they visited two public schools in Amman city on the 21st and 22nd of March. Around 220 pupils attended the first session. The Sanitation for Millions team presented concepts on safe hygiene and demonstrated the correct and safe way to handwashing and -sanitizing. To make it more interactive, quizzes and puzzles were given, and the participants competed among themselves to answer. The World Water Day is a great occasion to spread awareness and to discuss important and future-oriented ideas and developments. One big event to do so is the UN 2023 Water Conference which takes place in New York from March 22nd till 24th. Especially in times of climate change, increasing water-related natural disasters and rising numbers of waterborne diseases, it is more important than ever to raise awareness and to take action. Water is a key element when it comes to reaching the SDGs and to protect human and environmental health.