The United Nations seems to have a day for everything, from poetry (March 20) to families (May 15) to statistics (October 20). They even have a day for mountains (December 11). Some of these days are reasonable enough but mostly they're just ridiculous.
But World Water Day is different. Anyone who has gone without a drink or a shower for a few days learns to appreciate it quickly. And when you don't have clean water for real, the consequences can be a lot more serious than stinking up your cubicle. Millions of people die every year from water-related diseases, and millions more have to spend a big chunk of their income to buy it.
I saw this first-hand in Mongolia, where nearly half the population in the capital lives in heavily-polluted ger districts without running water or basic infrastructure. People there have to buy water and haul it in carts to their homes, often in sub-zero temperatures. They pay much more for it than people living in houses or apartments.
So I was pleased when IFC (where I now work part-time) chose World Water Day to launch Handshake, its new quarterly journal on PPPs, which covers private sector involvement in health, education and infrastructure in developing countries. The first issue, Tapped Out, focuses on water issues.
Subsequent issues will be on health, transport, cities, climate change and more. Visit www.ifc.org/handshake to download them (they're free) or sign up for the newsletter.