World Water Day 2016 – Better Water, Better Jobs

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Today is being observed as World Water Day, which was first designated at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development where an international observance for water was recommended. The United Nations General Assembly responded by designating 22 March 1993 as the first World Water Day. The day is aimed at encouraging people around the world to learn more about water related issues, be inspired to tell others and take action to make a difference.

The focus for this year is Water and Work. According to UN-Water, the entity that coordinates the UN’s work on water and sanitation, “almost half of the world’s workers – 1.5 billion people – work in water related sectors and nearly all jobs depend on water and those that ensure its safe delivery. Yet the millions of people who work in water are often not recognized or protected by basic labour rights. The theme in 2016 — water and jobs — is focusing on how enough quantity and quality of water can change workers’ lives and livelihoods – and even transform societies and economies.”

Indeed, water is essential for every aspect of life. If you don’t think so, just remember that water makes up most of our bodies – approximately 78 per cent at birth. In honour of the day, here are seven interesting facts about water:

  1. Water covers approximately 70.9 per cent of the earth’s
  2. There is about 332,500,000 cubic miles of it on the planet, but only one-hundredth of one per cent of the world’s water is readily available for human use.
  3. Ninety-seven per cent of the water on Earth is salty. Lakes, rivers, streams, ponds, swamps, and so on accounts for a mere 0.3 per cent of the world’s fresh water, while the remainder is trapped in glaciers or underground.
  4. Only one per cent of the earth’s water is drinkable.
  5. A running toilet can waste up to 200 gallons of water each day.
  6. Women and girls are primarily responsible for collecting water in developing countries. About 25 percent of their day is spent on this task.
  7. Agriculture uses approximately 70 per cent of water resources globally.
  8. About 20 per cent of groundwater supplies – which provide drinking water to some 50 per cent of the world’s population – are now suffering from over-extraction. This leads to freshwater in coastal areas often being contaminated by saline intrusion.
  9. Jamaica’s freshwater resources come from surface sources (rivers and streams), underground sources (wells and springs) and from harvesting rainwater. The groundwater supplies most (about 80 per cent) of Jamaica’s water demands and represents 84 per cent of the island’s exploitable water.
  10. The major users of water in Jamaica are irrigated agriculture (33 per cent), residential water use (21 per cent), and the environment (39 per cent). Manufacturing, hotels and mining use less than seven per cent of the annual available water.