The 22nd of March each year is observed as the World Water day every year to celebrate water, the essence of all life anywhere. Water is linked to all aspects of the existence and sustenance of all forms of life and related issues on earth. The human being, on an average, is made up of 70% of water and can last weeks without food, but very few days without water. Every day, every person needs access to water for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene. Water is essential for sanitation facilities. The World Health Organization recommends that 7.5 litres per capita per day is required to meet the requirements of most people under most conditions. It also says that a higher quantity of about 20 litres per capita per day will take care of basic hygiene needs and basic food hygiene.
The theme for 2015 is “Water for sustainable development” and today is the day to take a pledge, to make a difference and for members of the global population to take steps to ameliorate the water situation for a better future, as it is a non-renewable resource that is fast depleting from the world.
Despite impressive gains made over the last decade, even today, 748 million people in the world do not have access to an improved source of drinking water and 2.5 billion do not use an improved sanitation facility. According to the National Sample Survey data for 2013, among rural households, 85.8 percent had sufficient drinking water and for urban India the corresponding figure was 89.6 percent. There still exists a substantial gap in the access to drinking water and sanitation facilities as 46.1 percent of households in rural India have drinking water facilities within premises against 76.8 percent in urban India and 59% rural households do not have latrines against 9% of urban households.
The Indian Red Cross Society by behavioural change communication, through the First Medical Responders programme being implemented in selected districts of 19 state and UT branches, brings advocacy among the communities, including schoolchildren, to access improved water and sanitation facilities as well as educates them on household water treatment and conservation of water. IRCS also provides clean drinking water following disasters and other emergencies, by deploying portable Water purification machines and Disaster response team members in affected areas. There is still a long way to go, however, our efforts continue to fill the gaps.
I call upon everyone to contribute his or her bit in conservation of water so that it is available for future generations. The need of the hour is to bring innovative measures of conservation and distribution of water, so that it becomes accessible to everyone.
Dr S P Agarwal
Indian Red Cross Society