Water Currents: World Water Day 2018


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World Water Day is observed on March 22 to raise awareness about the vital importance of water and its cross-cutting impact ranging from public health and youth education to economic development and gender equality. This year’s theme, “Nature for Water,” explores nature-based solutions to water challenges.
According to UN-Water’s World Water Day fact sheet, nature-based solutions can help to manage both water availability and quality. Examples include restoring forests, grasslands, and natural wetlands; reconnecting rivers to floodplains; and creating vegetation buffers along watercourses. These and other nature-based solutions can reduce erosion, improve water quality, enhance biodiversity, recharge groundwater resources, and mitigate flooding downstream.

This issue contains information on upcoming World Water Day 2018 events and studies on nature-based solutions to water supply issues.

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Water Currents - In Focus


March 22: World Water Day 2018. The official World Water Day website advocates for water-related issues, provides resources, and includes a fact sheet as well aspromotional materials for this year’s theme.
March 22: Launch of International Decade for Action: Water for Sustainable Development 2018-2028. The UN General Assembly will launch this initiative to improve cooperation, partnership, and capacity development to address water-related challenges in response to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
March 19: 8th World Water Forum. Touted as the world’s biggest water-related event, the annual forum brings together water experts and managers from organizations all over the world. It is organized by the World Water Council.
March 19: Launch of New World Water Development Report 2018. The 2018 edition of UN-Water’s flagship publication focuses on the potential of nature-based solutions to address contemporary water management challenges. The report focuses on water for agriculture, sustainable cities, disaster risk reduction, and improving water quality.
March 15: Webinar on Nature Based Solutions: Investing in Nature from Catchment to Tap. The International Water Association (IWA) is hosting this event as the first in a series of webinars on the integration of nature-based solutions in water systems. The webinar will focus on practical approaches to integrating natural infrastructure into the planning and implementation of water systems.

Nature-Based Solutions - Wetlands

Constructed WetlandsGlobal Water Pathogens Project, December 2017. Constructed wetlands are a sanitation technology that uses the natural removal mechanisms provided by vegetation, soil, and associated microbial populations to treat wastewater.
Treatment Wetlands. IWA Publishing, November 2017. As the seventh volume in the IWA’s Biological Wastewater Treatment series, this book gives a state-of-the-art presentation of the science and technology of sewage treatment, covering the major variants of wetland systems.
Treatment Wetlands in Decentralised Approaches for Linking Sanitation to Energy and Food SecurityWater Science & Technology, November 2017. Treatment wetlands (TWs) are engineered systems that mimic the processes in natural wetlands for treating contaminated water. TWs can also recover nutrients and carbon from waste, as well as create biomass for energy production.
Rethinking Intensification of Constructed Wetlands as a Green Eco-Technology for Wastewater TreatmentEnvironmental Science Technology, February 2018. The most attractive benefit of constructed wetlands is their eco-friendly way of treating wastewater, with low operational costs and easy maintenance.

Nature-Based Solutions - Sand Dams

Learning from Ancient Water Management: Archeology's Role in Modern-Day Climate Change AdaptationsWiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Water, October 2017. Sand dams are simple and relatively inexpensive, yet the technique can increase water availability and reduce vulnerability to water shortages, even in times of drought.
Road Crossings for Water Harvesting in Dry Rivers: Non-Vented Drifts as Sand DamsRoads for Water, September 2017. This paper discusses the siting, design, and construction of road crossings in dry riverbeds to harvest and retain flood water. The use of non-vented drifts functioning as sand dams in semiarid and arid areas is an underutilized opportunity to harvest flood water in most countries.
The Use of Satellite Images to Monitor the Effect of Sand Dams on Stream Bank Land Cover Changes in Kitui DistrictJournal of Agriculture, Science and Technology, January 2017. Examining stream banks during the dry season in two water catchments, researchers found that sand dams had a significant influence on land cover along stream bank channels.

Nature-Based Solutions - Landscape Restoration

The Business of Planting Trees: A Growing Investment OpportunityWorld Resources Institute, January 2018. This report profiles 14 businesses that are part of an emerging restoration economy. It highlights four promising investment themes in land restoration: technology, consumer products, project management, and commercial forestry.
Agroforestry for Landscape Restoration: Exploring the Potential of Agroforestry to Enhance the Sustainability and Resilience of Degraded LandscapesFAO, September 2017. Agroforestry can provide many ecosystem services, including landscape restoration, which can enhance physical, chemical, and biological soil characteristics, thereby increasing soil fertility, controlling erosion, and improving water availability.
Maintaining Water Security in Critical Water Catchments in Mongolia: An Ecosystem-Based Adaptation ApproachUSAID, May 2017. This case study from Mongolia describes several landscape-level ecosystem-based adaptation approaches, such as restoring riparian and wetland habitats with native plants, reforesting upstream areas, and protecting upstream catchments through the construction of fences around natural springs to prevent overgrazing and trampling by livestock.

Other Publications

Implementing Nature-Based Flood Protection: Principles and Implementation GuidanceThe World Bank, January 2017. Effective flood risk management is critical to protect people and their livelihoods. This working paper presents guidance such as evaluation, design, and implementation of nature-based solutions for flood risk management as an alternative, or complement to, conventional engineering measures.
Upstream Watershed Condition Predicts Rural Children’s Health Across 35 Developing CountriesNature Communications, October 2017. Forests and wetlands can provide ecosystem services that help maintain water quality. This study found that higher upstream tree cover is associated with lower probability of diarrheal diseases downstream, concluding that natural capital within watersheds can be an important public health investment, especially for rural populations.
Ecosystem-Based Adaptation and Extreme Events: Evidence SummaryUSAID, May 2017. Extreme weather and other climate events such as floods, droughts, storms, and heat waves pose considerable risks to communities and reverse development gains. Ecosystem-based adaptation can reduce the vulnerability of societies and economies to such extreme events.


Water Currents - In the News

Ethiopian Summit Focuses on Participatory Co-Design to Develop Low-Cost WASH, February 2018. The USAID Transform Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Sanitation Co-Design Summit in Hawassa, Ethiopia, brought together a broad set of stakeholders and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Design Lab to create new sanitation and hygiene products for the Ethiopian market.
Announcing the #WaterSecureWorld Photo, January 2018. USAID’s Global Waters team invites readers, implementers, mission personnel, and other water professionals to help illustrate the next phase of USAID’s commitment to addressing the world’s water challenges as outlined in the newly released U.S. Government Global Water Strategy through photos.
How India Could Help Solve America’s Sewage WoesNext City, February 2018. More than a dozen Indian cities and towns so far have decentralized wastewater treatment facilities. Other countries are taking notice.

If you would like to feature your organization's materials or suggest other content for upcoming issues of Water Currents, please send them to Dan Campbell, Knowledge Creation/WASH Specialist, at



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