Students celebrate World Water Day

Students from Introduction to Global Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Development celebrated World Water Day to highlight the importance of sustainable management of freshwater resources

World Water Day collaborative poster

Collaborative World Water Day poster from Introduction to Global Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Development

World Water Day is held annually on March 22 to focus on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. The day has been designated by United Nations General Assembly and celebrated since 1993. The theme for 2017 is ‘wastewater’.

With instructor Dr. Syed M. Nazim Uddin, UVic’s GEOG 391 (Introduction to Global Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Development) students developed a collaborative poster to celebrate the World Water Day 2017 based on their creative messages and thinking on global water issues. Each student then discussed their messages in the class to promote group discussion. A debate on ‘Top Down vs Bottom Up Approach’ has been organized in the class to discuss about the advantages and disadvantages of both approaches in the field of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH). The key message from the class was to ‘save and protect our water’.    

Global communities are challenged by WASH: water, sanitation and hygiene-borne hazards, risks, and vulnerabilities including a range of diseases, water scarcity, and its depletion and pollution. At present, water, sanitation, and hygiene are global concerns and priority areas in the international development sector. Although the Millennium Development Goals included improved drinking water supply, water quality and safety are still very precarious in many regions of the world. Globally, 748 million people still rely on unsafe drinking water sources such as rivers, streams, ponds, unprotected open wells, and poorly protected springs. In addition, some populations who are using “improved” drinking water sources are still not consuming safe water. Improved sanitation facilities for one billion people need to be ensured by 2030 in order to meet the sanitation target set by the Sustainable Development Goals. Poor sanitation accounts for the death of a child every 20 seconds, including 88% of deaths caused by diarrheal disease and people’s insufficient access to sanitation. The United Nations estimates that good hygiene and a safe water supply could save 1.5 million children’s lives a year.

Our Introduction to Global Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Development course discusses the current global conditions and challenges and WASH-borne risks, hazards, and vulnerabilities as well as trends in WASH systems and services, particularly in the low- and middle-income countries, and explores the underlying socio-economic, political, cultural, and technical factors that explain why almost a billion people still lack access to improved water supplies, and about 2.4 billion do not have improved sanitation services. It also addresses the global disparities in access to WASH services between ‘urban and rural’, ‘urban and peri-urban’, ‘rich and poor’, ‘homeless and non-homeless’ and ‘majority and minority’. Additionally, the impact of climate change, disasters and other uncertainties on global and local WASH systems and services are discussed. This course focuses on what can be done to solve global WASH problems and challenges and how to reduce the WASH-borne hazards and risks in terms of both hardware and software solutions using multi-disciplinary approaches. 

Geog 391 A02 students

Students from Introduction to Global Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Development

Article and photos provided by Dr. Syed M. Nazim Uddin