World Water 2011 – Thirsty Cities

The theme for World Water Day is Water for Cities – Responding to the Urban Challenge, with the objective being to focus our attention on the impact of rapid urban population growth, industrialization the uncertainties and the devastating world wide destruction, we as a planet are experiencing due to climate change, conflicts and natural disasters on urban water systems.

How are we as individuals, organisations and communities addressing the critical issue of water, what are our local governments doing, are we being proactive and how can each one of us make a difference? Having access to safe and sufficient water and sanitation is a basic human right. The simple act of washing one’s hands in clean water or drinking clean water can mean the difference between life and death, literally.

Are you aware that:
95% of the urban population growth in the coming decades will take place in the developing world
Lack of safe water and sanitation in cities leads to cholera, malaria, cholera and diarrhoea
In Africa and Asia the population will double between 2000 and 2030
Every second the world urban population grows by two people
5 million city residents are joining the urban population in the developing world each month
493 million people
827.6 million people live in slums and squatter camps often lacking adequate drinking water and sanitation facilities

These facts are quite staggering and surely make one stop and think.

We have highlighted the importance of our forests and wetlands within Zimbabwe in earlier articles and once again, World Water Day reminds us of the importance of protecting these unique biodiverse areas for long term provision of natural fresh water. We need to take action and protect our ecosystems whilst considering the negative impact our day to day activities can have on our surrounding environment; we have to manage our water resources in a sustainable manner. It is not enough to take water from nature for use in agriculture, industry and every day life without taking into account nature’s needs. Animals, plants, forests and wetlands all need clean water. Wastewater must be recycled so that pollution is minimized. Unique areas like estuaries, which play an important part in supporting the delicate and complex food chain of many birds and fish need intervention on our part to protect them for our future. We must learn to respect the resource base on which life ultimately depends, water. Stand up and take action for Water in your area.

Children walking next to polluted water in Victoria Falls

Industry is a major contributor to socio economic development and a large part of it’s success is derived from the usage of water. Just as they utilize water for manufacture and production, they should be socially responsible for utilizing it in the most efficient manner and to return of the water to our environment in an unpolluted form. We should continue to seek and find alternative ways to utilize energy.

Water related hazards such as droughts, floods, erosion and other kinds of pollution should be factored into any integrated approach to water resource management and policy. It is the most vulnerable within our societies that are exposed to and suffer the consequences of these events. As a society, we do need to take ownership and responsibility for the protection and management of our water resources and in line with UN policy, it is believed that the current water wastage within our urban areas can be minimized by promoting water education in schools and communities within the urban context. The broad aim of water education would be to facilitate changes in behavior and personal attitudes among water consumers and to promote better understanding of the environment in a water context. To be able to identify the underlying causes of current water related problems in the city, support informed decision making by the community, participate actively in the sustainable management of their environment in a water context and evaluate and propose actions that will achieve effective water related solutions in support of water conservation.

“Water supply does not run dry when it is drawn from the well of human values”



  1. Great coverage. That was a prttey thougt provoking read. Speaking of doing business with Africa, I am helping TanCon (volunteers run conference brought together by The African Network) and looking for a few panelists to present on various topics related to doing business with Africa. I think you might be a great speaker. I am not sure if your schedule permits to fly to San Francisco area to speak, but if so, you can get in touch with TanConf directly, I am sure they will be delighted to have you.

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