Today we celebrate the International World Water Day which is held annually on this day, 22 March. As we remind each other about the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources; let’s save water today, for tomorrow.

International World Water Day was set up as a means to get us to focus our attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. Let’s save water today, for tomorrow!

The observance of this day is an opportunity to learn more about water related issues, be inspired to tell others and take action to make a difference. Each year, UN-Water — the entity that coordinates the UN’s work on water and sanitation, sets a theme for World Water Day corresponding to a current or future challenge. The engagement campaign is coordinated by one or several of the UN-Water Members with a related mandate.

It’s a sad but true fact that 783 million people around the world still do not have access to clean water. Over 2.5 million people still do not have proper access to adequate sanitation facilities. This sad lack of such basic human needs is a tragedy that people around the world are seeking to redress.

This is also why the United Nations has set up World Water Day – a day where people can focus on the many ways ordinary people can get involved in helping people reclaim some dignity, and improve their long-term health through access to clean and safe water. Other water issues such as safeguarding aquatic eco-systems are also highlighted every year on this day. We need our water in all its forms!

We need clean water to stay healthy. South Africa’s high per-capita usage rates are also, partly, a function of high levels of non-revenue water (i.e. water that is unaccounted for, in South Africa this is mostly through physical leaks) and a high reliance on water-intensive coal-fired power plants for electricity. Finally, the country is overly dependent on surface water, and doesn’t sufficiently use other resources like groundwater.

South Africa is also coming off a historic drought. According to the South African Weather Service, 2015 was the driest year on record. While there is seasonal variation, there is also a downward trend, with each peak and through a bit lower than the last. The catchment has not been considered ‘normal’ since mid-2015.

Polluted water isn’t just dirty, it’s deadly. Some 1.8 million people die every year from diarrheal diseases such as Cholera. Tens of millions of others are seriously sickened by a host of water-related ailments, many of which are easily preventable. Education suffers when sick children miss school, economic opportunities are routinely lost to the impacts of rampant illness and the time-consuming processes of acquiring water where it is not readily available. Children and women bear the brunt of these burdens.

Water is obviously essential for hydration and for food production, but sanitation is an equally important, and complementary, use of water. A lack of proper sanitation services not only breeds diseases, it can rob people of their basic human dignity.

Water is such a precious commodity that many take for granted. World Water Day is a chance to think about those people and places where water needs are still paramount, and seek to work together to find a solution.