World Water Day is observed annually on March 22 to raise awareness about the vital importance of water to everything from public health and youth education to economic development and gender equality. The theme for the 2018 celebration – Nature for Water – emphasizes the potential for nature-based solutions to address the mounting water-related challenges we face in the early 21st century.
Nature provides a blueprint for easing the world’s water crunch. Reforestation, for example, can not only anchor soil in place, but also enhances the soil’s ability to absorb precipitation and refill groundwater tables below. Conserving wetlands can provide important buffers that protect communities from destructive storm surges in coastal regions and guard against dangerous flooding along waterways farther inland. Reliance on woodlands, wetlands, and other forms of “green infrastructure” helps our natural environments process floodwaters while also mitigating pollution in lakes and waterways that communities depend upon for reliable, safe drinking water, and their livelihoods.
As outlined in the recently released U.S. Government Global Water Strategy, USAID’s efforts to promote sustainable water resources management focus on preservation of watersheds and aquatic ecosystem services as the foundation for sustainable economic development and improved public health.