DFAT marks World Water Day 22 March

22 March 2019

Water is critical to human survival, yet globally 2.1 billion people live without safe water – their households, schools, communities and workplaces struggle to survive, let alone thrive.

It seems inconceivable that while we know water is precious, more than 80 per cent of wastewater is discharged into rivers or seas untreated.  

Today on World Water Day, 22 March, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), together with key partners in the Water for Women (WfW) Fund and the Australian Water Partnership (AWP) – reaffirms the central importance of water for all.

Marginalised groups such as women, children, refugees, indigenous peoples, disabled people and other vulnerable groups are often overlooked, and sometimes face discrimination as they try to access water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services. These groups are also left out of decision-making processes related to water resource management (WRM).

World Water Day 2019 addresses the reasons why so many people are left out and has adopted the theme, 'Leaving no one behind'. This theme builds on the central commitment of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 for water that no one should be left behind.

Today, however, billions of people still live without safe water and sanitation and in many countries water scarcity is a growing threat, not a receding one.

The large numbers left behind point to the severity of the problem …. and the effort needed to reach solutions. Australia's response is measured and targeted.

Through Australia's new flagship Water for Women Fund, ten civil society organisations are delivering 19 WASH projects in 16 countries in the Indo-Pacific region.  Over five years, it will improve access to safe and affordable WASH services.

Through the Australian Water Partnership, the Australian Government supports public and private organisations to provide tools and policy advice on sustainable water management and governance to a range of development partners in the Indo-Pacific and beyond.

Since 2015, the AWP has supported over 120 activities and responded to requests for assistance from 21 different countries and regions.

Coordination, collaboration and cooperation is essential to achieving SDG 6. Recognising this, DFAT will celebrate World Water Day with the WfW Fund, UNICEF, WHO, SWA and the World Bank during an event in Bangkok opened by Allan McKinnon, Australia's Ambassador to Thailand. During the event, the DFAT-funded WHO and Institute of Sustainable Futures – UTS publication: 'A Guide to Equitable Water Safety Planning' will be launched. DFAT will also announce the successful applicants for the Water for Women Fund Research (Type 1) Awards. These research awards will address key water and WASH knowledge gaps.

More information

Water for Women Fund

Australian Water Partnership

World Health Organization (WHO)



Last Updated: 22 March 2019
A Vietnamese woman washing her hands
Credit: Thrive Networks Vietnam