The creation of the
IAWD was promoted by the Pan American Health Organization
(PAHO), the Inter-American Association of Sanitary and
Environmental Engineering (AIDIS) and the Caribbean
Water and Wastewater Association (CWWA). These agencies
signed a Declaration during the XXIII AIDIS Inter-American
Congress in Havana, Cuba, November of 1992. Since the
inception of the Initiative, it was decided to commemorate
the Inter-American Water Day the first Saturday of October
of every year, the first celebration of which was in
1993. Beginning in 2001 The Organization of American
States (OAS) was incorporated into the Initiative. The
initial IAWD Declaration for the Initiative demonstrates
the basic principles that guide and direct the celebration.
The primary objectives of the
IAWD are to: highlight the relationship between water
and good health, educate and create awareness among
the public about its proper and efficient use, and foster
ongoing water-related activities at the school age population
and the community at large.
Other objectives include the following:
- To promote the fight against
water pollution and contamination, especially with
regard to water-borne diseases--particularly Cholera.
- To encourage all governments,
international agencies, non-governmental organizations,
the private sector and communities to participate
in the IAWD celebrations.
In November 1992, three Organizations,
the Inter-American Association of Sanitary and Environmental
Engineering (AIDIS), the Caribbean Water and Wastewater
Association (CWWA), and the Pan American Health Organization
(PAHO), signed a Declaration at the XXIII Inter-American
AIDIS Congress, in Havana Cuba, creating the Inter-American
Water Day (IAWD). This special observance which falls
on the first Saturday of October was celebrated for
the first time in 1993. In April of 2001, the Organization
of American States (OAS) joined the initiative.
The signers of the IAWD Declaration
realized that, while in general, the areas of Latin
America and the Caribbean are abundantly rich in water
resources--not unlike many other regions--water is not
uniformly distributed among and inside the countries.
And, as essential as this natural resource is, it is
not well managed and protected in the Region. In many
areas, access to clean drinking water or water service
at all is problematic for many of the poorest in the
region. In areas where water supply services are accessible,
water quality should be improved. Access to clean drinking
water in sufficient quantities is a right, not a privilege,
and all citizens should be afforded this opportunity.
IAWD was therefore established
to create public awareness in the Americas about the
importance of water in our lives. The vision is that
the event should be viewed as a "celebration of
water" in the Americas. While there has been marked
improvements in providing safe water to under-served
areas in Latin America and the Caribbean; and increased
improvements in health, particularly among the most
vulnerable sections of the population--children, studies
continue to show that many diseases are still attributed
to unsafe drinking water. Water-related diseases continue
to be one of the leading causes of illness and death
among young children in the Region. As we enter into
the next millennium, there is increasing concern about
the need to ensure a sustainable supply of drinking
water to all citizens.
In April of 2000, the International
Coordination Group was constituted and the Guidelines
for Cooperation Among the Partners of the IAWD Initiative
were approved. In addition, the constitution of the
National and Local coordination groups were promoted
in each country of the Region. Furthermore, the web
page--where additional information and documents from
previous years can be found--was organized during the
same year. The tendency, more and more, is to use this
web page as a connecting element and as a memory for
the participants of the initiative. Finally, a discussion/
distribution list of information, open to all interested
individuals, was set up.
Since the IAWD Initiative was
created, activities have been organized around several
The following is a synopsis of
themes from 1993-2000:
1993 - "Water is Life and
Health". This was the inaugural celebration and
emphasis was placed on educating the public about the
important relationship between water and good health.
Two educational pamphlets on water conservation and
water-related diseases were developed. In addition,
an article titled "Health Risks Associated with
Pollution of Coastal Bathing Waters" was published.
This article outlined many infective diseases that may
result from bathing or ingesting uncooked, or partially
cooked fish or shellfish, from sewage polluted coastal
1994 - "Water and Your Environment". This
theme focused on the issues related to drinking water
and the protection of drinking water sources in Latin
America and the Caribbean in the context of the chapter
on Protection of Quality and Supply of Freshwater Resources
of Agenda 21. Three pamphlets were distributed, which
addressed the following issues: the importance of groundwater
in the Region, and the identification of possible contamination
sources; health effects associated with drinking contaminated
water, and common sense procedures that could be helpful
in preventing contamination of drinking water sources.
An illustrated booklet was also used to educate the
public on simple and effective treatments for making
water safer in communities and homes.
1995 - "Water a Heritage to Preserve". The
theme this year emphasized the need to manage water
resources through effective and integrated approaches
that would protect human health and aquatic ecosystems.
A guidebook titled "Protecting our water to protect
life" was developed for secondary school children.
Another booklet, "Water, a Heritage to Preserve"
explored practices and systems of water management and
aimed at stimulating a dialogue among various community
1996 - "Water, too Valuable to Waste". The
intent of this theme was to promote community awareness
and participation in activities related to water conservation.
The objective was to focus attention on the need to
better manage, protect and conserve water resources
at the individual, community and national levels, with
particular emphasis on public participation. Two booklets
were published, one addressed the issues related to
water and health; and the other was an informational
guide used to raise the awareness about the need to
place greater value on this natural resource--water.
A pamphlet on conservation tips was distributed.
1997 - "Drinking Water Quality and Your Health".
This year the focus was on waterborne diseases and solutions
to reduce the occurrence of such diseases--including
cholera--and educating the public on the importance
of practicing proper hygiene and water protection. A
booklet titled "Water Quality and Your Health"
emphasized safe water as a source of life. Designed
in a question-and-answer format, the booklet addressed
many issues on how certain diseases are contracted.
Simple methods on how to avoid diseases, and if necessary
treat diseases, was discussed.
1998 - "Getting to Safe Water- Lets All Get Involved".
The theme refocused attention on water quality, emphasizing
the importance of microbiologically safe water. In a
Region where microbiologically unsafe water is a serious
public health problem affecting a very large segment
of the population, the theme underscored the need for
people to know the risks involved and the role they
must play in protecting themselves and their communities
against diseases. A booklet named after the theme explored
the issues involved in making water microbiologically
safe. It emphasized that individuals, communities and
governments have to work together to ensure safe water
and that safe water not only reduces the incidence of
water-borne diseases, but can also increase quality
1999 - "A Right to Safe Water for All Children
--Let Us Commit Ourselves". The Right of all children
to have safe water and sanitation was the focus of this
theme. The vision was to spotlight every child's right
to safe water: (a) as a human right; (b) as the single
most vital element in combating diseases, and (c) for
protecting the environment. A guidebook on water and
environmental health for schools and communities of
Latin America and the Caribbean titled "Boys and
Girls in Action" was developed. This guide highlighted
children's rights to better heath and a safer environment,
and recognized that drinking water access at school,
home and in the community is a fundamental right. UNICEF
joined the initiative, for this specific year.
2000 - "Water, Every Drop Counts, Let's Use it
Wisely'. Highlights the problem of water availability
we are confronted with owing to the fast increase in
demand, contamination problems, limited investment in
the sector and exhaustion of this resource. As was the
case in previous years, a work guideline for the theme
was developed. Seven chapters emphasized perspectives
on the following issues: water in the XXI Century on
a global and regional basis; integrated water management;
water and agricultural and industrial activities; water
and household activities; contributions from authorities
and technicians in the sound water management; contributions
from educators and mass media in the suitable water
use; and suggestions from campaigns surrounding the
2001 - " Water and Health: a Toast to Life".
The theme emphasizes once again that, in so far as larger
quantities of treated water are available, hospitalizations
and deaths from water-borne diseases are mitigated.
The theme comments that when we are speaking on water,
we are dealing with our own lives. The six chapters
of the guide are as follows: water and health--two strategic
allies for life; environment, water resources, and water
management in the Americas; evaluation of water supply
and sanitation services in the region at the end of
the second millennium; today's activities for constructing
the future; and tasks for all and by all: the responsibility
and participation of diverse social sectors. The guide
emphasizes the 10 year commemoration of the initiative
2002 - " Water, Waste Not, Want Not " is the
theme selected during the most recent International
Coordination Group meeting. Clearly, the theme emphasizes
the importance in preserving this resource, waste control,
and the significant economic value of water. The 10th
anniversary of the Initiative is to be celebrated in
The IAWD, celebrated on the first Saturday in October
of each year, is aimed at impacting not only the general
public but also the national authorities. While it is
important to raise the population's awareness about
water management issues, the event should reinforce
the urgency of authorities to address water access and
quality problems in urban and rural areas--especially
for populations most lacking these services.
celebration of DIAA