Water is life’s most basic need. We need it for drinking, food, and sanitation. Many of us take it for granted where water is readily available from a tap, or to buy bottled at the supermarket.

But for more than 2 billion people, clean water is out of reach. Millions walk for up to three hours a day to fetch water, carrying up to 20 litres on their backs – most of them are women and children. The water they collect is often contaminated, spreading diseases such as diarrhoea, cholera, and dysentery. The UN estimates that it causes 485,000 deaths each year.

In recent years, the crisis has worsened. In 2020, lack of access to sanitation put millions at a greater risk from COVID-19. Meanwhile, climate change and extreme weather events make water scarcer, more unpredictable, and more polluted. The World Health Organisation predicts that by 2025, half of the world will be living in water-stressed areas.

Water connects every aspect of life. Access to safe water saves lives from disease. It empowers women and children to work and go to school, and in doing so, reduces poverty.

Today (22 March) is World Water Day, a chance to celebrate the power of clean water. How will you celebrate?

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This animated video highlights the importance of water and the effects of the water crisis on millions of people across the globe.


  1. Make a poster for World Water Day that draws attention to some of the biggest impacts of the water crisis.
  2. Reducing the amount of water you use ensures less is wasted. Watch these tips for saving water around the home. This week, see how many you and your household can follow.
  3. Research a country that is particularly affected by the water crisis. Make a short presentation about it for your class.