World Water Day 2017 – Why Waste Water?

World Water Day, on 22 March every year, is about taking action to tackle the water crisis. Today, there are over 663 million people living without a safe water supply close to home, spending countless hours queuing or trekking to distant sources, and coping with the health impacts of using contaminated water.

The Sustainable Development Goals, launched in 2015, include a target to ensure everyone has access to safe water by 2030, making water a key issue in the fight to eradicate extreme poverty. Another one requires us, by 2030, to “improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe re-use globally.”

Worldwide, the vast majority of all the wastewater from our homes, cities, industry and agriculture flows back to nature without being treated or reused – polluting the environment, and losing valuable nutrients and other recoverable materials.

Instead of wasting wastewater, we need to reduce and reuse it. In our homes, we can reuse greywater on our gardens and plots. In our cities, we can treat and reuse wastewater for green spaces. In industry and agriculture, we can treat and recycle discharge for things like cooling systems and irrigation.

By exploiting this valuable resource, we will make the water cycle work better for every living thing. And we will help achieve the Sustainable Development Goal 6 target to halve the proportion of untreated wastewater and increase water recycling and safe reuse.

Read about examples of what Green Cross is doing to help achieve Sustainable Development Goal 6, and in particular about waste water:

Providing access to water and sanitation through the Smart Water for Green Schools project: The Smart Water for Green Schools (SWGS) project, which Green Cross started in 2010 to provide access to water and sanitation for communities in need around the world, contributes to international efforts to secure safe drinking water and sanitation for every human being. SWGS addresses children’s needs first, as they are more vulnerable to waterborne diseases, but does target entire communities.

SWGS methods include building infrastructure and empowering communities to maintain their own water supplies and sanitation facilities, reducing the risk of deadly waterborne diseases, promoting the sustainable use of water resources, and increasing school attendance, girls’ education and gender equality.

SWGS is now active in over 169 villages worldwide: in Ghana, Bolivia, Argentina, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Mexico, China (Yunnan and Guizhou Provinces), Ukraine, Senegal, Brazil and Sri Lanka.

Construction of ecological latrines in rural Ghana

Tackling obsolete pesticides and mercury, lead and uranium: Green Cross and its partner organizations have been working on eliminating obsolete pesticides (and other toxic waste including mercury, lead and uranium) in over 30 countries – particularly in the Former Soviet-Union area and West-Africa. Obsolete pesticides pose a significant environmental and health concern. Many of these chemicals are today deregistered locally, banned internationally under the Stockholm Convention because of their massive impacts on public health and environment, or unusable because of long-term storage resulting in degradation. One of the major pathways of obsolete pesticides and other toxic wastes to enter into the environment is through water.

WHO statistics show that pollution kills one in seven people, making environmental pollution the leading cause of death in low- and middle-income countries. Capacity building on and elimination of obsolete pesticides and other toxic waste is therefore of utmost importance in reducing water pollution and protecting human health.

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For more information on World Water Day and this year’s theme, please go to