Water for peace - World Water Day

Water for peace

World Water Day 2024 will focus on the theme, ‘Leveraging Water for Peace’. Celebrated annually on 22 March, World Water Day raises awareness and inspires action to tackle the water and sanitation crisis.

Water can create peace or spark conflict.

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, only 24 countries have cooperation agreements for all their shared water.

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

Public health and prosperity, food and energy systems, economic productivity and environmental integrity all rely on a well-functioning and equitably managed water cycle.


Goal 6: Ensure access to water and

 sanitation for all

While substantial progress has been made in increasing access to clean drinking water and sanitation, billions of people—mostly in rural areas—still lack these basic services. Worldwide, one in three people do not have access to safe drinking water, two out of five people do not have a basic hand-washing facility with soap and water, and more than 673 million people still practice open defecation.

If you’re among the 9 out of 10 people on the planet who have clean water access close to your home and around the clock, count yourself lucky. Hundreds of millions of people are not so fortunate, and their families pay the price daily. Water-related diseases sap their energy. Carrying buckets of dirty water for hours prevents moms from earning money and kids from attending school. They don’t have the water they need to irrigate crops or water livestock. And at the end of the day, it’s hard to rest knowing the next day will be the same.

These are people who lack basic water service. Instead, they must walk from 30 to 90 minutes round trip to a water source every day.

Nearly one quarter of Angola’s 36.8 million people uses water from an unsafe surface river or pond. In some places, water is plentiful — but it’s not the water you want to drink. Carrying water home is most often the work of women and girls who may spend hours a day carrying heavy jerrycans of dirty water to meet their family’s needs. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the critical importance of sanitation, hygiene and adequate access to clean water for preventing and containing diseases. Hand hygiene saves lives. According to the World Health Organization, handwashing is one of the most effective actions you can take to reduce the spread of pathogens and prevent infections, including the COVID-19 virus. Yet billions of people still lack safe water sanitation, and funding is inadequate.


  • 2.2 billion still live without safely managed drinking water, including 115 million people who drink surface water. (WHO/UNICEF, 2023)
  • Roughly half of the world’s population is experiencing severe water scarcity for at least part of the year (IPCC, 2022). 
  • Water-related disasters have dominated the list of disasters over the past 50 years and account for 70 per cent of all deaths related to natural disasters (World Bank, 2022). 

World Water Day became a UN observance day in 1993. It seeks to focus attention on the global water crisis and raise awareness of the 2.2 billion people living without access to safe water.