Each year, the United Nations uses World Water Day as an opportunity to raise awareness and demand action around the global water crisis. Each year, there is a theme. This year’s theme is wastewater, framed as a ‘grossly undervalued as a potentially affordable and sustainable source of water, energy, nutrients and other recoverable materials’ (pdf).
The sort of technical optimism embodied in World Water Day often appears alongside colourful photos of poor people living in poor places, usually women and girls, carrying heavy containers down dirt paths or across sun-parched landscapes. These images are used to convey a sense of urgency to calls for action.
What we are seeing however, are two very different faces of ‘the water crisis’.