UN calls for investment in safe water

March 22, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 22 – Investment in safe water would have high returns in ensuring a healthy ecosystem and human society, according to a new report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

The report released during the global World Water Day celebrations stated that an investment of Sh1.5 billion ($20 million) in low cost water technologies, such as drip irrigation and treadle pumps, could lift 100 million poor farming families out of extreme poverty.

Adeel Zafar, Chairman of UN-Water – a body formed to ensure attainability of the Millennium Development Goals – said water quality impacts the lives of millions of people worldwide annually, a majority of them under the age of five.

“We are happy that this year’s World Water Day puts great emphasis on this delicate issue which is so much reflected in the Millennium Development Goals,” the UN-Water Chair said.

The report ‘Clearing the Waters: A Focus on Water Quality Solutions’ also indicated that repairing leaky water and sewerage networks could secure not only supplies but reduce pollution and generate employment.

It said in some developing countries, 50-60 percent of treated water was lost to leaks and globally an average of 35 percent was lost.

“By some estimates, saving just half of this amount would supply water to 90 million people without further investment,” the report stated in part.

“But while there are solutions, much more needs to be done,” the report added. The annual World Water Day is coordinated by UN-Water, a coordination mechanism of 26 UN agencies working on water

According to UNEP, globally two million tons of sewage, industrial and agricultural waste was poured into the world’s waters every day and at least 1.8 million children under five years-old died every year from water-related diseases.

UNEP Executive Director, Achim Steiner said human activity over the past 50 years was responsible for unprecedented pollution and the quality of world’s water resources was increasingly challenged.

“World Water Day highlights how the work of improving and sustaining the world’s water quality is everyone’s responsibility. It may seem like an overwhelming challenge but there are enough solutions where human ingenuity allied to technology and investments in nature\’s purification systems such as wetlands, forests and mangroves can deliver clean water for a healthy world,” he said.

Under the theme ‘Clean Water for a Healthy World’, World Water Day 2010 will see a series of initiatives organized around the globe to raise awareness and emphasise the key importance of good water quality in improving human well-being.

The global event aims to bring attention to the state of water quality around the world, and is a call for action on pollution prevention, clean-up, and restoration of waterways in order to sustain healthy ecosystems and human well-being.

Central to World Water Day 2010 is the launch of the UN-Water Statement, a consensus document of 26 UN agencies and other partners, scientists, and practitioners, pointing out the state of the world’s water and defining the will and the way forward.

World Water Day supports the United Nations’ declaration of 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity, working to reduce the constant loss of biological diversity worldwide.


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