Wednesday, March 28, 2007

World Water Day 2007

Event Title: World Water Day 2007
Sponsor: Water Advocates
Location: National Press Club
Date: March 22nd, 2007
Time: 9:00 am-10:30 pm
Approximate Number of Attendees: 75
Intern Attending: Evan Davies

Featured Speakers: Congressman Blumenauer, Senator Brownback, Jim Hughes, Meanie Nakagawa, Gil Garcetti, Rev. Al Bailey, Mark Winter, Marty Shupack, Tanvi Nagpal, Ron Denham

Water Advocates held the World Water Day press conference panel to discuss the current situation and what is currently being done to increase access to clean water and alleviate water shortages around the world. Congressman Earl Blumenauer first spoke about the Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act, signed in by Congress in 2005. It has not been effective to date because the US government has not alloted any money toward any projects, rendering the signing meaningless. He urged advocacy groups to pressure Congressmen to start backing the bills they sign in.

Senator Sam Brownback followed him, speaking more broadly about how important water is, and emphasizing that if relief efforts are going to work, they must start with water. A majority of diseases are water borne and too many people die each year from basic diarrheal diseases because clean water is inaccessible. Sen. Brownback invited members of the audience to go to Africa to build wells and in order to see first hand the importance of access to clean water.

Jim Hughes, from Emory University’s Center for Global Safe Water, discussed the importance of water to achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. He commented that, “Each of the eight goals put forth by the UN will not be accomplished unless there is a mass improvement in creating safe drinking water.” He pointed out that all of the MDGs are interrelated, and, for example, a newborn child has a much better chance of survival coming into the world if cleaned by potable water than water from a polluted source. While this targets decreasing child mortality, we encounter the same issue with the spread of HIV/AIDS. When someone’s immune system is substantially weakened, their body is at higher risk of contracting disease from unsanitary water.

Gil Garcetti and Reverend Al Bailey both briefly talked about their involvements in water security. Mr. Garcetti is a photographer who recently put out a photobook entitled Water is Key and is contributing all proceeds to the Hilton Foundation. Rev. Bailey of the New Psalmist Baptist Church discussed how his church has been involved in raising awareness and funds for NGOs with water projects.

Marty Shupack, from Church World Services, is trying to support NGOs by raising awareness in churches and urging action from congregations to help those especially in need of water.

The last speaker was Tanvi Nagpal of the UN Foundation who finished with some sobering statistics; for example, 1.1 billion people don’t have access to clean water. There is an increasing amount of conflict due to scarcity of water. One example is in Sudan with Lake Chad drying up. Although these consequences look grim we can turn water issues around by making them a priority in development efforts.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Hilton Foundation sponsored the book, Water is Key. The Foundation has not and will not be receiving any royalties from its sale and distribution. However, a portion of the proceeds will go toward international water programs.