Written by guest blogger Denise Deby, who has worked in international and community development, and is still trying to figure out how to connect the local with the global in her everyday life.
March 22, 2010 was a typical Monday in Ottawa. I didn’t have to worry about my drinking water, or wait in line to use a bathroom. But over 1 billion other people in the world don’t have safe water. And 2.5 billion people don’t have access to toilet facilities.
March 22 happens to be the UN’s World Water Day. This year’s theme was water quality and links to health: “Clean Water for a Healthy World.” This, to draw attention to the fact that 4,000 children under five die every day from preventable water-related diseases, and that people suffering from such diseases fill half of the world’s hospital beds, or that water and sanitation are central to human and ecosystem health and well-being.
World Water Day has a low profile in Ottawa, but some things did happen and there are still ways you can get involved:
• On March 21, students from the University of Ottawa and Carleton University participated in the World’s Longest Toilet Queue, lining up on Parliament Hill for a chance to symbolically go to the bathroom and raise awareness.
• A screening of Blue Gold: World Water Wars, and discussion with Meredith Brown, Ottawa Riverkeeper and Brent Patterson, Council of Canadians, organised by the Ottawa Chapter of the Council of Canadians with support from the United Nations and Bridgehead, on March 22. You can find out more about the Ottawa Riverkeeper’s current activities at ottawariverkeeper.ca, and check out the movie or the book
• Our Walk to the Water, “a First Peoples’ family friendly celebration in honour of World Water Day in partnership with EcoWater Systems” took place on Victoria Island, presented by Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health.
• Watercan is launching an exhibit of photographs by Peter Bregg entitled Water for Life: An African Photo Exhibit. More information is available from Watercan.
• Celeste Cote, National Water Campaigner for Sierra Club Canada and Ottawa resident, is one of a group of people trying to use as little water as possible in the month of March. Celeste is blogging about her experience at www.sierraclub.ca/blog/water.
• Anyone can join the World’s Longest Toilet Queue virtually. By signing up you can make your voice heard before the first High-Level Meeting on Sanitation and Water in Washington, DC on April 22.
As the UN says, “We all live downstream.”