Children’s Water Festival stirs awareness; The importance of water from a 5-year old

Children’s Water Festival stirs awareness; The importance of water from a 5-year old

I have a special attachment with water.

I grew up by the beach and also had access to rivers, so swimming and boating as an activity were part of my childhood. Those scenarios of children swimming in the river or the sea, getting on a boat or canoe, I have experienced them. Oh, what a wonderful feeling to reminisce those memories.

Canoeing was one of the activities featured during the Children’s Water Festival in Fanshawe Conservation Area on May 16, 2019. Photo by Riza Khamal

But it didn’t stay that way. We experienced drought and drinking water became scarce. The pollution affected our rivers too. This is where I experienced hours and hours of lining up at different water sources only to get two gallons of palatable water. I remember getting up at 4 a.m. only to bring our water containers at the water station to fall in line. Then go back to check on it at 7 in the morning.

So I fully understand what “water is life” means.

This is why I got so excited when I found out about the Children’s Water Festival at the Fanshawe Conservation Area on May 16, 2019. This festival is an annual event held every May through the effort of Children’s Water Education Council. The Council aims “to educate students about the importance of water conservation, protection, technology and ecology.”

I was looking forward to my boys to learn about the importance of water in their daily lives. That’s the purpose of the event, besides the fun and educational aspect it offers the public.

Brothers Umar (left) and Abdul-Rahman (right) learned about how water gets to our home from the sources. They attentively pay attention to how water hydrant operates and used during an emergency. Photo by Riza Khamal

Without any plans, I took my boys to the event, hopeful that there will be a workshop of some sort, where they will learn how to appreciate the abundance of water we have here in Canada, and at the same time not be wasteful of it. I know this can be taught at home, and I can, but kids sometimes retain their learning when they hear it from some authority other than their parents.

A staff from the London Children’s Museum is giving instruction on how to go about this water-plastic activity.

We didn’t find any workshop related to water conservation or importance of water at the site but the children definitely had a great time participating in the various activities available. The activities were all fun and definitely learning opportunities for children and children at heart.

And while writing this, I asked my eldest boy, 5 years old if the water is important (he said yes) and why? Here are his answers:  Water is important…

  • so we can wash our hands
  • clean ourselves
  • to drink because it gives us energy
  • can do wudhu (washing before praying for Muslims)
  • water  our  plants
  • wash our dishes
  • wash our laundry

These are the daily uses of water he sees around him, and that’s acceptable. As a mom, I have to initiate and guide him eventually to the deeper issues related to the importance of water, in shaa Allah (God willing).

Although the phrase “don’t waste water!” is innate to me, I have not actually thought of discussing the importance of water and conservation of water with my children, and the Children’s Water Festival made me realize this.

Water-related issues affect the world. In Canada, we are blessed not to experience the scarcity of water, but in other parts of the world, it is not just about insufficient water, there are so many challenges related to water.

In 2010, the United Nations General Assembly recognized and declared that access to water and sanitation is a human right. Water is a basic need, and I hope that the countries in the world will succeed in fulfilling its Sustainable Development Goals, especially #6 which is to “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.” 

In its website the UN listed these water-related challenges that we have at hand:

  • 2.1 billion people lack access to safely managed drinking water services. (WHO/UNICEF 2017)
  • 4.5 billion people lack safely managed sanitation services. (WHO/UNICEF 2017)
  • 340,000 children under five die every year from diarrhoeal diseases. (WHO/UNICEF 2015)
  • Water scarcity already affects four out of every 10 people. (WHO)
  • 90% of all natural disasters are water-related. (UNISDR)
  • 80% of wastewater flows back into the ecosystem without being treated or reused (UNESCO, 2017).
  • Around two-thirds of the world’s transboundary rivers do not have a cooperative management framework. (SIWI)
  • Agriculture accounts for 70% of global water withdrawal. (FAO)
  • Roughly 75% of all industrial water withdrawals are used for energy production. (UNESCO, 2014)

As an ordinary individual we think that we won’t solve this world problem, yes, you are right, but we have to remember that sometimes the small things we do has the strongest impact. Don’t get disheartened, do what you can, and don’t forget to educate the children.   

Children’s Water Festival will be now one of our yearly events too.

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