Water for Life Voices

The Decade’s success builds on your success

Achieving the Water for Life Decade’s goals has needed sustained commitment, engagement, cooperation and investment from all.

Share your Water For Life Voice with us!.

The decade is officially drawing to a close on World Water Day, 22 March 2015. The Decade has seen the recognition of the human right to water and sanitation and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goal target of halving the number of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water well in advance of the 2015 deadline. But what does this mean at ground level? Have these advancements improved your daily life? Did your water and sanitation situation improve? Have you benefited from the successes of the Decade?

As the end of the 'Water for Life' Decade approaches, we would like to show how people's efforts, your efforts, have contributed to its success. We want to hear your voice! Your WaterForLifeVoice!

  • Looking back. What has the Decade meant for you? How has your life changed in relation to water and sanitation over the last 10 years? Where have you seen a significant change?
  • Looking forward. Where do we need to improve? What are your hopes for the future?
  • Your contribution. How have you contributed to improving the situation? At home, in your city, your country? We want to know what you have done and can do about it.

>> Submit your contribution
>> Browse fantastic photos submitted from all around the world on Flickr

The 'Water for Life' Decade

The sanitation challenge

The Millennium Development Goals on water and sanitation require 75% of the planet to have improved sanitation by 2015.

In 2011, 64% of the world relied on improved sanitation facilities. Open defecation rates declined globally from 24% in 1990 to 14% in 2012.

But still, more than one third of the global population, 2.5 billion people, do not use an improved sanitation facility, and 1 billion practise open defecation. 7 out of 10 of these people live in rural areas. The world is not on track to meet the MDG sanitation target; 69 countries were not on track in 2012, 36 of them in sub-Saharan Africa.

Did you know that every US$1 spent on sanitation brings a $5.50 return by keeping people healthy and productive?

In September 2000, building upon a decade of major United Nations conferences and summits, world leaders came together at United Nations Headquarters in New York to adopt the United Nations Millennium Declaration, committing their nations to a new global partnership to reduce extreme poverty and setting out a series of time-bound targets - with the deadline of 2015 - that became known as the Millennium Development Goals.

The eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – which range from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS, halving the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and providing universal primary education by 2015 – form a blueprint agreed on by all the world’s countries and leading development institutions. Together they have galvanized unprecedented efforts to meet the needs of the world’s poorest. In 2002, at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, the water target was expanded to include basic sanitation and water as a resource was recognized as a critical factor in meeting all the Goals.

Significant progress has been made since then in providing people with access to clean drinking water and basic sanitation. However, a major effort is still required to extend these essential services to those still unaccounted for.

Given the magnitude of the task, in December 2003, the United Nations General Assembly decided to proclaim the period 2005-2015 International Decade for Action 'Water for Life'.

How you contributed to the Decade's achievements?

The primary goal of the ’Water for Life’ Decade is to promote efforts to fulfil international commitments made on water and water-related issues by 2015.

The themes

Water affects everything and everyone. Over the Decade, our remit has taken us from improving access to sanitation, to recognizing the human right to water and sanitation, better understanding the water and energy nexus, facilitating women's involvement in water and sanitation issues, considering water and food linkages, highlighting water scarcity and better positioning water resources management. We have been involved in potential flashpoints where water spans national boundaries, and in the area of water quality, which is still difficult to measure accurately. And of course, we have considered the role water plays in sustainable development and our planet's biodiversity. There are so many areas where success can be celebrated!

>> Access to a list of themes for inspiration

Significant progress has been made since then in providing people with access to clean drinking water and basic sanitation:

  • Since 1990 well over 2.3 billion people have gained access to an improved source of drinking water and 116 countries have met the MDG target for water. More than half of the world’s population, almost 4 million people, now enjoy the highest level of water access: a piped water connection in their homes. The MDG drinking water target coverage of 88% was met in 2010, 5 years ahead of schedule despite significant global population growth.
  • Almost 2 billion people have gained access to improved sanitation and 77 countries have met the MDG target. Between 1990 and 2012, open defecation decreased from 24 per cent to 14 per cent globally.
  • Global attention to water and sanitation has increased and there has been significant progress in water cooperation and the engagement of women in water and sanitation issues.

In providing the world’s population with an improved water source and basic sanitation we still have a lot to do and the future is full of challenges. To build this future upon solid foundations we must acknowledge and celebrate our successes. Don’t you think so?

How to get involved?

We want to make a big splash! You can contribute by submitting different types of materials: your photos with your message, a 3 minute audio/video recording or an interview. All these need to respond to the three questions above.

Selected contributions will be considered for inclusion in the end of Decade online exhibit. To be considered, you need to submit your materials before the end of December (deadline for submissions is 15 December 2014). If your work is considered you will be notified and credited. Contributions submitted before the end of August are now being assessed to be included in the exhibit that will take place on World Water Day 2015 at the United Nations Headquarters.

>> Terms and conditions of use

>> Submit your contribution

Be our champions!

The 'Water for Life' Decade has provided an opportunity for everyone to get involved and contribute. All around the world, activities and initiatives have been actively building the Water for Life Decade campaign. YOUR ideas, activities and initiatives have been welcomed and become part of the Water for Life Decade family!

You have promoted the Decade by using and distributing its logo. So, we especially want to know your plans to celebrate and take stock of the end of the decade. We would like to invite you to be our Champions. Please submit your photos, videos and messages and also those from people whose lives have improved during the decade.

>> Submit your contribution

Be our champion! There’s still time to join the ‘Water for Life’ Decade Campaign, you simply have to request the use of its logo.

Media professional's special nomination

As a media professional YOUR ideas, activities and initiatives have been welcomed and become part of the Water for Life Decade family! Contribute now to the WaterForLifeVoices Exhibit and Campaign.

We would like to invite you now to be our Champions in showing how people have benefited, what they want for the future and how people's efforts have contributed. Please submit your photos, videos, audios and messages from those people whose lives have improved during the Decade.

Submissions by media professionals will be evaluated and those selected will receive a special media nomination.

>> Submit your contribution

Get informed!

>> Decade's weekly
The Decade's weekly brings you every week the latest news from the Decade.

UN Documentation Centre on Water and Sanitation
UN Documentation Centre on Water and Sanitation website

>> UN Documentation Centre on Water and Sanitation

Water publications from the UN

>> Bimonthly Publications Review 23 [PDF document. - 1.3 Mb]
UNW-DPAC. August 2014
>> Previous issues

A Date with...

Sustainable Development
15-17 January 2015: UN-Water International Zaragoza Conference ‘Water and Sustainable Development: From vision to action’

22 March 2015: World Water Day on Water and Sustainable Development

2011-2020: UN Decade on Biodiversity

Deserts and Desertification
2010-2020: UN Decade for Deserts and the Fight Against Desertification

2014-2024: Decade on Sustainable Energy for All
22 March 2014: World Water Day on 'Water and Energy'

2011-2015: Sustainable sanitation: The Five-Year-Drive to 2015
19 November 2014: World Toilet Day