International World Water Day is held annually on 22 March as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. Each year a specific aspect of freshwater is highlighted. This year’s theme is ‘Water and Urbanisation’, reflecting the importance of water in ever-growing urban populations around the world. Accordingly, the objective of WWD 2011 is to focus international attention on the challenges and opportunities of urban water and sanitation management. It seeks both to alert the world to the adverse global situation in urban water management, and to encourage decision-makers to seize opportunities to address these formidable challenges.
Facts (taken from UN World Water website)
The world’s cities are growing at an exceptional rate and urbanisation is a continuum. The main reason they are growing is because of natural increase in urban population, but also due to rural-to-urban migration and reclassification of rural areas to urban areas.
93% of the urbanization occurs in poor or developing countries, and nearly 40% of the world’s urban expansion is growing slums. Between 1990-2001 the world’s slums increased at a rate of 18 million people a year, and is projected to increase to 27 million new slum citizens per year between 2005-2020.
Investments in infrastructure have not kept up with the rate of urbanization, while water and waste services show significant underinvestment. The central problem is therefore the management of urban water and waste. Piped water coverage is declining in many settings, and the poor people get the worst services, yet paying the highest water prices.
Few urban authorities in developing countries have found a sustainable solution to urban sanitation, and utilities cannot afford to extend sewers to the slums, nor can they treat the volume of sewage already collected. Solid waste disposal is a growing threat to health and the environment