World Water Day - Compassion International

World Water Day
This World Water Day you can provide a lifetime of safe drinking water to children and their families.

$79 provides one family with clean water for life.
World Water Day: Bringing Awareness to Water Issues

World Water Day is held annually on March 22. It’s an international day dedicated to increasing public knowledge about the importance of water to basic global development and human prosperity. World Water Day offers an opportunity to direct attention to the influence water has on our world, and on each of us. While access to clean water is taken for granted in most developed nations, there are many countries that lack basic access. The facts concerning these countries, and their citizens, are astounding.

  • 663 million people worldwide still do not have access to improved drinking water.1
  • At least 10 percent of the world's population is thought to consume food irrigated by waste water.2
  • By 2025 water scarcity is expected to affect more than 1.8 billion people—hurting agricultural workers and poor farmers the most.3
The Centrality of Water

In an address to the World Health Assembly in 2001, then United Nations (UN) Secretary General Kofi Annan, pointed to the essential and foundational role that access to clean water plays in the formation of thriving communities.

"We shall not defeat… diseases that plague the developing world until we have also won the battle for safe drinking water."

In 2010, the UN affirmed the statement by declaring access to safe drinking water a basic human right.

Whether or not a community has access to clean and safe drinking water affects the health, development, and well-being of the children and adults living there. The many uses of water make it the most important public resource, and having access to it is a key determinant of community health. Water consumption includes basic hydration, hygiene, crop production, and livestock rearing. These functions are not optional, but necessary in a prosperous society. Food security, educational opportunity, and personal health are just a few of the connected points that depend upon a community's, an adult's, and a child's access to clean water.

Compassion exists to release children from poverty in Jesus' name. Ensuring that children and their families have access to clean water is fundamental to short-term personal health and long-term poverty relief. It is one of the key ways we care for children.

Complex goals such as expanding education, or improving public health, first require access to clean water. Improved sources of drinking water help children avoid the common ailment of water-borne illnesses. When free of water-borne illnesses, children are more likely to survive past the age of five and miss school less. More time in the classroom means increased learning and greater opportunities for the future.

The UN further noted in its 2010 declaration that the right to water must follow some basic guidelines. They asserted that everyone is entitled, for personal and domestic purposes, to water access that is safe, acceptable, sufficient, physically accessible, and affordable.

The Assembly deems water "safe" when it is free from micro-organisms, chemical substances, and radiological hazards. Settling for water that does not meet these basic standards is sometimes the only option a community has, with some even drinking water contaminated with feces. This practice greatly increases the risk of contracting deadly diseases such as cholera, dysentery, polio, and typhoid. It is estimated that by taking the preventative measures of providing all people with safe drinking water and adequate sanitation and hygiene, global cases of disease could be reduced 10 percent. Clean water has the potential to change, and save, millions of lives.

The International Decade for Action

The first observed World Water Day occurred in 1993. The United Nations established the day because: "the extent to which water resource development contributes to economic productivity and social well-being is not widely appreciated." The UN also addressed the need for increased long-term water initiatives, noting that there must be greater public awareness concerning the practice of "water conservation and sustainable management."

With the importance of water initiatives deserving more than just a day of observance, World Water Day 2018 marks the beginning of The International Decade for Action, "Water for Sustainable Development." This observance promotes practical actions and long-term solutions to combat the water crisis. Each year, World Water Day embraces a unique focus, with the decade's first yearlong theme being "Nature for Water – exploring nature-based solutions to the water challenges we face in the 21st century."

Solutions Found in Nature

Highlighting the concepts of resource management and sustainable development reflects an emerging realization across the global community. Put simply, the UN is recognizing that neglecting our ecosystems ultimately makes the task of providing everyone with clean water much harder. Nature-based solutions (NBS) are being embraced for their long-term ability to restore these ecosystems.

Nature-based solutions are considered 'green systems' since they require little or no energy. They improve both the availability and quality of water. Examples of green systems include the restoration of wetlands and forests, the conservation of natural resources, and careful water source management. With half of the world's wetlands having been lost over the last century, nature-based solutions are more important now than ever.

A push for the development of NBS marks a pivot away from many traditional forms of water management, some of which are now termed 'grey solutions.' Grey solutions are man-made infrastructure, such as dams, that tend to be less cost-effective and sustainable than their naturally-occurring counterparts. Restoration and sustainability are the motivating forces behind this transition. Currently, industry and agriculture account for 90 percent of global freshwater consumption. With the remaining 10 percent going toward domestic use, and less than 1 percent reserved for drinking, water conservation is no longer an option, but a necessity.

UN-Water and Sustainable Development

UN-Water is the organization coordinating the work of the United Nations' water and sanitation initiatives. UN-Water supports these water-related commitments and promotes cooperation between the international community through a sharing of all water and sanitation information through three avenues:

  • Monitoring and reporting on water and sanitation issues
  • Informing policy processes and decisions
  • Raising awareness, knowledge and action on water as a fundamental human right

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) adopted by the UN in 2015, formally known as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, replaced and build upon the successful Millennium Development Goals (MDG). Although the number of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water was cut in half between 2000 and 2010, the gains didn't occur evenly throughout the world.

SDG 6, ensuring access to water and sanitation for all, establishes the following global targets pertaining to water.

  • Achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all
  • Implement integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate
  • By 2020, protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes
  • Expand international cooperation and capacity-building support to developing countries in water- and sanitation-related activities and programmes, including water harvesting, desalination, water efficiency, wastewater treatment, recycling and reuse technologies
  • Support and strengthen the participation of local communities in improving water and sanitation management
  • Improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping, and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater, substantially increasing recycling, and safe reuse globally
  • Substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity

The targets of SDG 6 are focused on water, sanitation, and hygiene, which are commonly known by the collective name WASH. These programs help provide clean water access and improved health to children and families all around the world. WASH projects do more than just address people's physical needs, they also bring educational benefits to children's lives and contribute to the economic development of poor communities.

Children living in communities without access to WASH are frequently unable to attend class because they are sick with diarrhea or other water-borne illnesses caused by poor hygiene. These children are often sick after drinking unsafe surface water because there is not a clean water source nearby. Since women and girls are usually in charge of maintaining the household water supply, girls are particularly disadvantaged when there is no local source. When a trip to collect water can take more than half an hour, this primary responsibility makes it harder for girls to attend school.

With education being so important in children's development, having access to clean water nurtures more than their physical health. Clean water is instrumental in shaping each child's future opportunities.

World Water Day Themes
  • 2018: Nature-based Solutions for Water
  • 2017: Wastewater
  • 2016: Water and Jobs
  • 2015: Water and Sustainable Development
  • 2014: Water and Energy
  • 2013: Water Cooperation
  • 2012: Water and Food Security
  • 2011: Water for Cities
  • 2010: Water Quality
  • 2009: Transboundary Waters
  • 2008: International Year of Sanitation
  • 2007: Water Scarcity
  • 2006: Water and Culture
  • 2005: Water for Life 2005-2015
  • 2004: Water and Disaster
  • 2003: Water for the Future
  • 2002: Water for Development
  • 2001: Water for Health – Taking Charge
  • 2000: Water for the 21st Century
  • 1999: Everyone Lives Downstream
  • 1998: Groundwater – The Invisible Resource
  • 1997: The World’s Water - Is There Enough?
  • 1996: Water for Thirsty Cities
  • 1995: Women and Water
  • 1994: Caring for our Water Resources is Everyone’s Business

80.7% Directly to Program
19.3% Supporting Activities
World Water Day Prayers

Let us lift our voices in prayer for the poor, especially those who do not have access to safe water sources.

  • Pray that families in the developing world gain access to safe drinking water and that illness and death related to unclean water and poor sanitation descrease.
  • Pray for the children who have to walk long distances to find water. Pray for their health and safety and that they don't have to miss school in order to find water for their families.
  • Pray that countries and communities around the world make progress in making safe, clean water available for all.

Lord, thank you for the abundant blessing of water and its availability in our lives. May we become better stewards of your creation. Help us to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. Amen.

Psalm 65: 9-11 (NIV)

You care for the land and water it; you enrich it abundantly. The streams of God are filled with water to provide the people with grain, for so you have ordained it. You drench its furrows and level its ridges; you soften it with showers and bless its crops. You crown the year with your bounty, and your carts overflow with abundance.

World Water Day Photos

A young man in Ghana wearing a yellow shirt holds two jerry cans filled with water.

A young Thai boy smiles while holding a cup of drinking water.

Two Ugandan women fill buckets with water from a pool of standing water.

Two Thai boys hold glasses of clean water above their heads.

A Nicaraguan girl at a water pump.

Famous Quotes About Water
"Water is the driving force of all nature."
  — Leonardo da Vinci

"Water links us to our neighbor in a way more profound and complex than any other."
  — John Thorson

"Pure water is the world’s first and foremost medicine."
  — Slovakian proverb

"Plans to protect air and water, wilderness and wildlife are in fact plans to protect man."
  — Stewart Udall

"We never know the worth of water till the well is dry."
  — Thomas Fuller

"Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all."
  — Nelson Mandela

"Filthy water cannot be washed"
  — African proverb


Compassion Water of Life


With a child's immediate well-being and long-term development in mind, we confront the issue of water accessibility head-on by providing in-home water filtration systems to the families of children participating in our programs. One Compassion Water of Life system can filter more than 1 million gallons of water, essentially providing a family clean water for life.

Each Compassion Water of Life system contains a bucket, hose, filter, connector and a syringe that is used for rinsing the filter with clean water, when needed. The filter consists of tiny micro tubes with pores hundreds of times smaller than the diameter of a human hair. The pores remove deadly bacteria from water gathered from typical drinking water sources in the developing world (e.g., lakes, rivers, ponds, standing water, etc.) and only allow clean water to pass through. The filter has been proven and tested by doctors at the United Nations and is shown to effectively eliminate bacteria, including cholera, typhoid, E. coli and amoebic dysentery.

Families that receive a water filter system receive training on how to use it and are also taught the importance of proper hygiene. This education helps create positive long-term results and improved health for entire families.

When you give a Compassion Water of Life system, you are really giving more than access to safe drinking water. When children are given access to safe drinking water, they are being protected from life-threatening diseases and receiving greater opportunity to attend school. They get to hear about the love of Christ and are being equipped to realize their full potential.

This World Water Day, you can make a positive difference in the life of a child most vulnerable to the water crisis. You can provide clean water to a family who needs it. Clean water for the rest of their lives.


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1 World Health Organization Media Centre Fact sheet N°391. Drinking Water, November 2016.
2 World Health Organization Media Centre Fact sheet N°392. Sanitation, November 2016.
3 UNDP. Human Development Report 2014. Sustaining Human Progress: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Building Resilience.