Press Releases

SG/SM/7738
OBV/200
13 March 2001

ACCESS TO SAFE WATER FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN NEED,
BASIC HUMAN RIGHT, SAYS SECRETARY-GENERAL IN MESSAGE ON WORLD WATER DAY

NEW YORK, 12 March (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the message of Secretary-General Kofi Annan on World Water Day, which is observed 22 March:

Access to safe water is a fundamental human need and, therefore, a basic human right. Contaminated water jeopardizes both the physical and social health of all people. It is an affront to human dignity.

Yet even today, clean water is a luxury that remains out of the reach of many. Worldwide, more than a billion people have no access to improved water sources, while nearly two and a half billion live without basic sanitation. These people rank among the poorest in the world -- as well as the least healthy. In fact, the absence of a safe water supply contributes to an estimated 80 per cent of disease and death in the developing world.

World Water Day reminds us to think of water in global terms, and to support global initiatives to give all people everywhere access to safe water. Last year, the Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) announced the inauguration of a World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP). Now adopted by the United Nations as a systemwide programme, the WWAP brings worldwide attention to the critical, but often overlooked, role of water within human development.

In this new century, water, its sanitation, and its equitable distribution pose great social challenges for our world. We need to safeguard the global supply of healthy water and to ensure that everyone has access to it. Please join me in celebrating World Water Day, and let us renew our commitment to clean, safe, and healthy water for all people.

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