To mark World Water Day on 22 March 2016, Bärbel Kofler, the Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, has called for access to water and sanitation to be sustainably improved:
Water is indispensable. Access to safe drinking water and to a toilet is therefore a human right. However, many people ‑ especially in times of flight and displacement ‑ are denied this right. Some 663 million people around the world still have no access to safe drinking water and more than 2.4 billion people do not have access to adequate sanitation.
Women and girls suffer especially as a result of this: collecting water for their families often exposes them to danger or means that they are unable to attend school. Many women and girls are still discriminated against because it is not possible for them to use sanitary facilities or the necessary personal hygiene items.
Germany, which has provided 350 million euros for programmes and projects, is the second biggest donor country in the water sphere. Alongside these concrete projects, however, we also have to strengthen the human rights to water and sanitation in the international human rights fora in order to establish international standards.
Although water and good sanitation are a precious commodity, they must not be a luxury.
Since 1993, World Water Day has been held annually on 22 March. It came about as a result of the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro.
In 2016, the motto of World Water Day is “Water and Jobs”.
The aim of this day is to make the general public in particular aware of the importance of water to humankind. All states are called upon to devote World Water Day to implementing the UN recommendation and to carrying out appropriate concrete measures at national level.