In 1993, the UN designated March 22 as World Water Day in order to emphasize the important of conserving and managing our freshwater resources. The 2011 theme was Water for Cities: Responding to the Urban Challenge. Urban areas around the world are growing rapidly: according to a 2011 study from Yale, by 2030 urban land use around the globe will expand by 590,000 square miles — which is almost equal to the land mass of Mongolia. The study shows that “India, China, and Africa have experienced the highest rates of urban land expansion,” while the largest absolute loss of rural land to cities has occurred in North America.
Whether people move to cities because of money and jobs (GDP growth), or because the population is growing, the result is the same: urban areas and industrialization are rapidly growing, people are competing for water, and the impacted water systems are challenged to keep up. In addition, scarcity of water and droughts affect food supplies around the world.
Here are some excellent activities for kids to do to to learn about our precious water resources.
Start the bigger kids with this great animation about our water usage, made by the UN.
Here are some UN articles about water use, water scarcity, food security, climate change, water management and conservation (includes videos and animations!).
What can kids do??
– Conserve water! Brainstorm and make a list with your kids of how you can personally conserve water. Some ideas for kids: turn off the faucets, take shorter showers, check for leaks and don’t waste water at home or school. Encourage your parents to go green: always buy energy efficient appliances and toilets, install faucet aerators and low-flow shower heads that use less water, and plant native flowers that require less watering.
– Finish your lunch, or save it for later! Limiting waste means reducing the water needed to produce our food.
– Raise money for a charity! Here are 5 organizations working around the world that to provide clean water for those who need it.
– Go meatless for a day! Grains and veggies require less water than animal products. Ask your parents to go vegetarian once a week to help conserve water. Download the above wall poster here made by fao.org (the Food and Agriculture Organization from the UN) to learn how much water it takes to produce your favorite foods!
– Learn more about water usage for food production with these games! Print and play this fun game with your class and guess how much water is needed for each of the foods.
– View these photos from The Atlantic: “water in our lives — how we use it, abuse it, and depend on it.” Parents and teachers preview first, some images are more appropriate for older kids vs younger kids.