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Trivias about the International Year of Freshwater

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In recognition of the central importance of water resources to the planet's future, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed the year 2003 as the International Year of Freshwater.

Freshwater is a matter of life and death. There are more than one billion people who lack access to a steady supply of clean water. There are 2.4 billion people - more than a third of the world's population - who do not have access to proper sanitation. More than 2.2 million people, mostly in developing countries, die each year from diseases associated with poor waste and sanitary conditions. 6,000 children die everyday from diseases that can be prevented by improved water and sanitation. And over 250 million people suffer from such diseases every year.

Although essential, freshwater is unevenly distributed: while 70% of the world's surface is covered by water, 97.5% of that is salt water. And of the remaining 2.5% that is freshwater, almost 3 quarters of that is frozen in ice caps.

While in most regions, there is still enough water to meet everyone's needs, it needs to be properly managed and used. Today, much water is wasted or used inefficiently, and oftentimes demand is growing faster than the supply that can be replenished by nature.

The availability of clean, fresh water is one of the most important issues facing humanity today and will be increasingly critical for the future, as growing demands outstrip supplies and pollution continues to contaminate rivers, lakes, and streams.

Buhi town sits on the shores of Lake Buhi, a small-crater lake and home to the smallest freshwater fish in the world, called "sinarapan" or "tabios." The Bicol word "sarap" means net and "sinarapan" means caught in a net. The fish is so tiny and transparent it takes several thousands to fill a small cup. But it is a highly reputed delicacy. It is measured in cup and then spiced to dry in the sun.

Lake Buhi is magnificent as the last rays of the setting sun fall on the fish pens and surrounding hills. You will catch lovely views of the lake if you stroll along the steep hillside and then walk through the abaca plantation of nearby Danao town. There are small resorts in the hills overlooking Lake Buhi for you to stay and enjoy the serenity of the lake and gastronomic palates of the "sinarapan."

The Souvenir Sheet and Official First Day Cover will be available starting 24 October 2003 at the Philate Bonifacio, 1000 Manila and all Regional Offices of the Philippine Postal Corporation.