A three-day event is underway in Cape Town to mark the United Nations' World Water Day on March 2011.UN-HABITAT Executive Director Joan Clos, Minister of South African Water and Environment Affairs and President of the African Ministers Council on Water Edna Molewa and Western Cape Premier Helen Zille opened the fair at the Cape Town International Convention Centre where an excited crowd of representatives of NGOs, the media and the public looked on.
In his introductory speech, Clos thanked the Government of South Africa for hosting the event and stressed the importance of South-South cooperation.
"There are many experiences to be shared and I am pleased to hear about new research that is taking place in South Africa. We will need commitment, political will and sharing if we are to be successful in meeting the UN Millennium Development Goals - of increased access to clean water and sanitation".
In addition to formal presentations, there was a colorful cultural programme. German musician and UN-HABITAT Messenger of Truth Rolf Stahlhofen performed a song written especially for the event Water is Life.
Stahlhofen will be working with local and international artists over the next two days to compose a song for the event which will be performed at the official global ceremony on Tuesday.
World Water Day is marked each year on March 22 to highlight the importance of the sustainable management of water and sanitation resources. In the context of unprecedented urbanization, this year's theme is Water for Cities, highlighting the growing strain urban growth is having on our cities' freshwater resources.
National events have taken place in Malaysia, Singapore, Canada and Myanmar among many other countries around the world.
In 2010, approximately USD 464 million was leveraged towards the Water and Sanitation Trust Fund (WSTF) activities . Through this funding,UN-HABITAT provided water, sanitation and solid waste services to over 866,000 persons. The Phase 2 of the Lake Victoria Region Water and Sanitation Initiative that covers 15 towns in five countries is been funded by the African Development Bank with a grant of USD 110 million and is aimed at benefiting 800,000 persons.
In 2010 alone, the WSTF Programme in Asia (Mekong and Water for Asian Cities in Nepal and India) provided improved water, sanitation and solid waste management services to an estimated 267,400 persons. UN-HABITAT is also host to the secretariat as well as leading in the development of Global Water Operators’ Partnerships Alliance which is committed to helping water operators help one another improve their collective capacity to provide access to water and sanitation services for all. The H2.0 initiative with funding from Google.org for USD 1.8 million, aims to improve the effectiveness of WATSAN investments and decision-making.