Like so many environmental programs, World Water Day owes its origin to the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. This year’s celebration falls on March 22, 2007, so it is a fitting time to say a few words about our own contribution to alleviating water shortage and helping those with scarce water resources around the world.
“Coping with Water Scarcity” is the theme of this year’s World Water Day and it is particularly apt in describing our activities.
Many of us recognize the potential for increased conflict over water resources, but we do not always realize how the mutual dependence and shared nature of a water resource can also be the basis for increased cooperation between peoples. The Green Cross Water Program is focused largely on conflict areas, primarily in the Middle East.
Here our current programs include projects with local partners such as The Peres Centre for Peace, where our ultimate goal is to influence policy makers in both Palestine and Israel to ensure that the equitable distribution of water resources and water treatment are properly represented in top level peace talks, as well as with Friends of the Earth Middle East to tackle the problem of sewage seepage into the trans-boundary aquifers between Israel and Palestine, well capacity building in the water sector in the Gaza Strip, as well as rainwater collection in schools in Israel, Palestine and Jordan.
The rainwater harvesting projects build on our earlier projects in Bolivia and new ones in the Middle East, Argentina, Burkina Faso, and will be extended next month to Chad, where we will be addressing some of the most desperate conditions of poverty related to water scarcity. The Chad project is an off-shoot of the international program, launched at the Hague 2nd World Water Forum, of Green Cross International to equip 500 schools around the world in 3 years with rainwater harvesting devises utilizing solar energy coupling to sanitation equipment in order to demonstrate how important and vital it is to save water and energy in our day to day lives.
The awareness of the need to better conserve water and the educational impact that these systems have had on local communities in developed as well as developing countries are invaluable. When it rains, school children partake in measurement activities designed to show precisely how much water is being collected from these systems, how much money is being saved, and most importantly, how everyone can take action to do his or her part in better water management and conservation. Furthering these programs is how we hope to do our part in observing World Water Day and we encourage you to do yours.