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Ending hunger and poverty through better water management, focus of this year’s World Water Day 2019 at FAO

Published: 22/03/2019

Providing rural communities with sustainable water management capacities and sanitation services are necessary to spur sustainable development in rural communities – the focus for discussions on the occasion of World Water Day at FAO Headquarters in Rome.

The discussion took place at the World Water Day celebration at FAO headquarters on 22 March 2019 and followed the theme of "Leaving no one behind" as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The event raised awareness on three essential steps to overcoming poverty and addressing social and economic inequities: ensuring people's access to water in rural areas, investing in water management for the poor and strengthening poor people's resilience to face water scarcity.

Access to safe drinking water and sanitation are recognized as basic human rights. They are indispensable to sustaining healthy livelihoods and are fundamental in lifting people out of poverty and maintaining the dignity of all human beings.

Speakers at the event highlighted the recently published UN World Water Development Report (WWDR) 2019 "Leaving no one behind." The report to which FAO contributed explains how improvements in water resources management and access to water supply and sanitation services are essential to overcoming poverty and addressing various other social and economic inequities. The report was presented by Michela Miletto, Deputy Coordinator, World Water Assessment Programme, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

His Holiness, Pope Francis stressed the need to create awareness of the importance of water especially among youth in a special message for World Water Day given by His Excellency Monseigneur Fernando Chica Arellano, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to FAO.

"A quarter of the population is predicted to suffer from a drought or water shortage in 30 years," said Alfonso María Dastis Quecedo, Permanent Representative of Spain to FAO. The Ambassador recommended a cross-border collaboration to manage shared water resources.

Carlos Aparicio Vela, Permanent Representative of Bolivia, tackled the commitments his country has made to combat water scarcity faced by rural people. "Bolivia's goal is to provide drinking water and sanitation to the entire population (rural and urban) by 2025, within the framework of our Patriotic Agenda,'' he said.

"Africa is in a grey zone, or even a red zone, in terms of access to water," says Mr. Abdoulaye Sene, President of the Preparatory Committee for the Organization of the 9th World Water Forum "Dakar 2021." His speech emphasized Senegal's obstacles with water scarcity due to climate change, which currently affect the region's rural population.
In the end, the findings of the report resonated with the panel. "Our NGO has been working on water access in Burundi for 15 years. Only 60% of the Burundian population living in rural areas have access to drinking water, which has a direct impact on the health of the population," said Francesco Tortorella, from Azione per un Mondo Unito.

All participants agreed that the key to ensuring that no one be left behind in rural communities directly links to their access to safe and clean water. Access to water allows rural families to thrive by reducing poverty and as a result, eliminating hunger.

World Water Day 2019 - Leaving No One Behind

 More information

World Water Day Official Website
UNESCO WWAP