What is World Water Day?

International World Water Day is a day about water and climate change – more specifically, how the two are closely linked.

By learning more about the effect that climate change has on clean water, the more we can protect people’s health and even save lives. By adapting to the effects, we can learn to use water more efficiently to help reduce greenhouse gases.

When is World Water Day 2020?

World Water Day takes place on March 22nd, 2020. During this week, schools, organisations and even businesses will be banding together to spread awareness of this important message.

Clean Water & Sanitation: a UN Global Goal

Clean water and sanitation is Goal #6 in the list of sustainable development goals (SDGs) outlined by the United Nations (UN). Amongst various other global goals, achieving clean water and sanitation for humans worldwide is one of the UN’s key priorities.

Through the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), schools and educational groups are being encouraged to teach students about the 17 SDGs and engage in stimulating activities that illustrate their importance.

World Water Day is the perfect opportunity to learn all about the UN’s goal for clean water and sanitation, including what they can do within their community to help.

Why education is important for achieving SDG-6

As UNESCO explains, comprehensive water education will provide us with the necessary tools we need to monitor water quality; improve water use by developing greater resources for its reuse, and help to raise awareness among communities so that they play an active part in improving their water management and sanitation.

Teachers and schools can access plenty of free educational resources for teaching students about clean water and sanitation over the the UNESCO website. Just follow the links below:

Hands under running water

World Water Facts

Water is essential to life. It constitutes up to 65% of the human body and 90% of the structure of plants. No living being can survive without it.

Despite this, many people’s access to clean water is threatened by pollution of rivers, bad economics, poor infrastructure and costly management in cities. Millions of people including children die every year from diseases associated with inadequate water supply, sanitation and hygiene.

Fortunately, there has been great progress made in the past decade regarding drinking sources and sanitation, whereby over 90% of the world’s population now has access to improved sources of drinking water. However, there is still much work to be done.

Below are some facts about clean water and sanitation around the world:

  • 2.6 billion people have gained access to improved drinking water sources since 1990, but 663 million people still remain without access to it.
  • 3 in 10 people lack access to safely managed drinking water services and 6 in 10 people lack access to safely managed sanitation facilities.
  • Lack of water affects more than 40% of the world population, which is steadily rising.
  • At least 892 million people continue to practice open defecation.
  • More than 80% of wastewater resulting from human activities is discharged into rivers or sea without any pollution removal.
  • Floods and other water-related disasters account for 70% of all deaths related to natural disasters.
  • More than 2 billion people are living with the risk of reduced access to freshwater resources and by 2050, at least one in four people is likely to live in a country affected by chronic or recurring shortages of fresh water.
  • Each day, nearly 1,000 children die due to preventable water and sanitation-related diarrheal diseases.
  • Women and girls are responsible for water collection in 80 per cent of households without access to water on premises.

Classroom Ideas for World Water Day

Below are a few ideas for World Water Day that you can use in the classroom to educate children about the clean water crisis.

1. Teach a lesson on clean water and sanitation

It’s important for students to first understand the current state of clean water around the world and how many families live without water. To do this, teachers can base a whole lesson around this issue using infographics, posters and activity booklets.

Many of these can be downloaded for free from the UNESCO website – however be sure to also check out the resources below.

2. Watch a Water Documentary

There are plenty of fascinating water documentaries you can screen to your students on WWD, including those on streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime.

Some good suggestions are:

  • FLOW– this documentary dives into the hot-topic political and environmental issues intertwined with the world water crisis.
  • Tapped – it’s impossible to walk away from this doc without forming opinions on the impact of bottled water in our world and our own lives.
  • Blue Gold: World Water Wars – as with the other films, you’ll get a heavy dose of politics here. But certainly the water crisis is real…very real.
  • Water: The Great Mystery – explores the inspiration and miracle of water around the world.
  • Earth Aid: Water Conservation – The amount of water on Earth available for use remains the same, even as the amount of people on the planet continues to grow.
  • The Blue Planet: Seas of Life – Let David Attenborough take you on a journey of the evolution of the world’s oceans, food chains, and the underwater life of aquatic creatures.
Water use in home graphic

3. Create a water diary

Help students understand the importance of water by developing awareness of their own daily consumption. For one day, have students write down all the water or fluids they consume and, if possible, all of their water their family use during the day.

Ask them to think about their entries in detail, e.g. do they leave the tap on whilst brushing their teeth? How long to they spend in the shower; how many glasses of water do they drink?

Typical activities that require water might include:

  • Morning activities (brushing teeth etc.)
  • Drinks
  • Cooking food
  • Bathroom visits
  • Laundry
  • Cleaning
  • Washing dishes
  • Watering plants
  • Washing the car etc.

Though they may not be able to calculate exact measurements, thinking about all of the activities they use water for and for how long will really open students’ eyes about how much we depend on water and how fortunate they are to have access. Afterwards, teachers can have an activity where students share and discuss their water usage in groups or as a class, and talk about ways they can reduce it.

4. Take the Water Access Challenge

Why not challenge students to limit their access to water for a day? They’ll soon realise just how much clean water is a key part of each and every day.

Participating students commit to servicing all their water needs from just ONE source – much like the people living in developing countries around the world. By limiting their own water needs for a day, students can internalise just how precious and valuable a clean water access point really is.

You could ask students to get sponsorship for this activity, with all of the proceeds going to the clean water charity Water.org or similar.

5. Create a Water Campaign

Working in groups, students should create their own campaign advocating for less water consumption in their school or local community. This might be a social media campaign or it could be distributing posters and leaflets around school or in local neighbourhoods.

Students can create their posters digitally on the computer, or with arts and crafts materials.

Resources for posters which may be helpful can be found over on the World Water Day website.

6. Host a Clean Water Talk Show Activity

Following a class lesson on clean water around the world, divide the students into teams to debate different sides of the issue on a simulated television talk show.

One group could play the part of non-governmental organisation members, or United Nations organisations members. The other side could be the head of major business corporations or owners of construction companies. Students then act out the talk show for the class.

Another option would be to make this into a simulated Model United Nations Debate.

Do you have any World Water Day activities you’d like to share with us? Tweet us on Twitter – @TrueEducation_P.