Why is World Water Day 2024 so significant?

Why is World Water Day 2024 so significant?
The UN World Water Development Report assesses global freshwater resources
Aljazeera / VideoElephant

March 22 marks World Water Day, an annual observance day from the United Nations (UN) that marks the importance of freshwater - and it's especially significant in 2024 given the crisis in Bengaluru, India.

Bengaluru and surrounding areas are facing big water shortages; Karnataka state chief minister Siddaramaiah is reported as saying on March 18, Bengaluru was facing a shortage of 500 million litres of water every day, around four fifths of what is needed.

During the 2023 monsoon, Karnataka is said to have had rainfall 18 percent below the normal rate and the least amount recorded since 2015, and there was not much rain fall after that either.

Karnataka receives a bulk of its annual rainfall during this time which fills up reservoirs and recharges aquifers (a body of rock and/or sediment that holds groundwater) but the lack of this has led to the knock-on effect of people being able to access freshwater.

Pictures have shown fresh water being delivered to local residents in tankers.

The UN says across the globe, '2.2 billion people are living without access to safe water'.

2024's theme is 'water for peace', with the UN hoping it will 'lay the foundations of a more stable and prosperous tomorrow'.

"Water can create peace or spark conflict," says the UN.

"When water is scarce or polluted, or when people have unequal or no access, tensions can rise between communities and countries.

"More than 3 billion people worldwide depend on water that crosses national borders.

"Yet, out of 153 countries that share rivers, lakes and aquifers with their neighbours, only 24 countries report having co-operation agreements for all their shared water.

"As populations grow, water will become increasingly important in the fight against poverty and the deterioration of the environment.

"Over time, there have been many more incidences of co-operation than conflict over water, but there is much more to do."

The day has also been recognised on X / Twitter, with users using the hashtag #ASongOrMovieForAllAboutWater to highlight it.

As climate change impacts increase, there is an urgent need, within and between countries, to unite around protecting and conserving our most precious resource.

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