The International Institute for Sustainable Development (iisd)  presents 



3 -17 May, 2003

Compiled by Richard Sherman

Edited by
Kimo Goree 

Published by the
International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)

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Editor's note: Welcome to the third issue of WATER-L News ©, compiled by Richard Sherman WATER-L is a collection of new articles, editorials and research updates addressing the implementation of the water-related Millennium Development Goals, the outcomes of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, and the further implementation of Agenda 21. It is distributed exclusively to the WATER-L list every 2 to 3 weeks. If you should come across a news article or have a submission for the next issue, please send it directly to WATER-L News © is an exclusive copyrighted publication of IISD for the WATER-L list and may not be reposted or republished to other lists/websites without the permission of IISD (you can write Kimo for permission.) If you have been forwarded this issue and would like to subscribe to WATER-L, please visit or contact our On-Line Assistant, Diego Noguera at

Funding for the production of WATER-L (part of the IISD Reporting Services annual program) has been provided by the US Department of State Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, The Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Government of Canada (through CIDA, DFAIT and Environment Canada), the Swiss Agency for Environment, Forests and Landscape (SAEFL), the United Kingdom (through the Department for International Development - DFID and Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs - DEFRA), the European Commission (DG-ENV), the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Government of Germany (through the German Federal Ministry of Environment - BMU, and the German Federal Ministry of Development Cooperation - BMZ). General Support for the Bulletin during 2003 is provided by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Government of Australia, the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sweden, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of New Zealand, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway, Swan International, the Japanese Ministry of Environment (through the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies - IGES), the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (through the Global Industrial and Social Progress Research Institute - GISPRI), and the Ministry for Environment of Iceland. If you like WATER-L News, please thank them for their support.







5)      PM REJECTS SUMMIT ON MURRAY, The Australian, May 16, 2003


7)      UK TO RAISE PROFILE OF FRESHWATER, Edie weekly summaries, May 16, 2003


9)      INDIA LIKELY TO BECOME WATER-STRESSED BY 2025, The Hindu, May 16, 2003




13)  DONORS REFUSE TO FUND LARGE WATER PROJECTS, Daily Times (Pakistan), May 15, 2003


15)  WATER HIGH ON AGENDA: United Nations, BuaNews (Pretoria), May 14, 2003

16)  GERMANY PLEDGES SH2.4B FOR WATER, The Nation (Nairobi), May 14, 2003

17)  DAIRY BOARD, UNICEF DRAWING UP JOINT PLAN, News Today (India), May 14, 2003


19)  CITY RUNS OUT OF WATER, IPS, May 14, 2003




23)  MORE THAN 1BN DO NOT HAVE ACCESS TO DRINKING WATER, Daily Trust (Abuja), May 13, 2003



26)  BRENDE LANDS TOP UN POSITION, News of Norway, May 12, 2003

27)  DANIDA TO FUND TRASHIGANG WATER SUPPLY PROJECT, Kuensel Online (Bhutan), May 12, 2003

28)  MEETING ON NATIONAL SANITATION STRATEGY, Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique (Maputo), May 12, 2003


30)  GOVERNMENT ABANDONS FREE WATER POLICY, Business Times (Dar es Salaam), May 9, 2003



33)  CHURCH URGED TO ACT AGAINST PRIVATIZATION OF WATER, Catholic Information Service for Africa (Nairobi), May 8, 2003

34)  NO SAFE DRINKING WATER FOR NORTHERN POPULATION, SAYS United Nations, UN Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), May 8, 2003





39)  WATER: A DRIVER OF GROWTH, World Bank, May 7, 2003








47)  GOVERNMENT NEEDS NEW STRATEGY TO DEAL WITH FLOOD WATERS, The East African Standard (Nairobi), May 5, 2003

48)  WATER PROJECT LAUNCHED IN KALANGALA, The Monitor (Kampala), May 3, 2003

49)  MINISTERS POINT TO WATER AS FIRST KEY ISSUE TO TACKLE POST-JOHANNESBURG, United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, May 2, 2003


50)  A PEOPLE'S CREATIVITY IN A WATER CRISIS, Daily Trust (Abuja), May 8, 2003


52)  THE ENEMY WITHIN, The Standard (China), May 6, 2003

53)  ADDRESS ON THE OCCASION OF THE OPENING OF THE FOURTEENTH WORLD METEOROLOGICAL CONGRESS by Professor G.O.P. Obasi Secretary-General, World Meteorological Organization, May 5, 2003

54)  PARALLEL EVENT ON WATER AND SANITATION FOR CITIES, Speech Delivered by Mrs. Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka, Executive Director, UN-HABITAT at a the Nineteenth Session of the Governing Council, UN-HABITAT, May 5, 2003











The Hindu
May 17, 2003

New Delhi May 17. The rivers interlinking project will generate a whole new set of inter-State disputes even as long-standing inter-basin disputes such as the Cauvery and Sutlej-Yamuna Link canal remained unresolved, a group of intellectuals observed here today at a `Citizens Meeting'.  The Narmada Bachao Andolan leader, Medha Patkar, the former High Commissioner, L.C. Jain, the former Water Resources Secretary, Ramaswamy Iyer, and the water expert, Himanshu Thakkar, attended the meeting, among others.

The meeting urged the Government to take people into confidence and urged it to put the feasibility reports of various links in the public domain. It sought details on the source of funding and the socio-economic and ecological costs of the estimated Rs. 560,000-crore project.

Mr. Jain questioned the "legitimacy" given to the proposal by the President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. He questioned the knowledge base of the Supreme Court on which it decided that rivers be interlinked in 10 years. He wanted to know whether the natural resources the project would consume could ever be reproduced. "Citizens need drinking water 10 times a day, not in 10 years from now."  His opposition was primarily on the ground that though the project claimed to solve the water problem of drought-prone areas, two-thirds of such geographical area would remain uncovered and would have to be augmented by local water harvesting programmes. "Not even the worst of governments can be so insensitive to promise something so prima facie absurd in terms of fulfilling the objective for which public opinion is solicited."

Ms. Patkar said the project was an example of how the system could be used to subvert as in Iraq and in Gujarat. "The Government proposes to sign contracts for eight links on which no details are available. There is no project plan nor is there a financial plan nor a comprehensive plan for the social and environment impact of interlinking rivers. Not just a task force for interlinking rivers but a contractors force is being raised." She said the issue about "zamin, jungle, paani (land, forest and water) and human beings" was so serious that people's organisations, intellectuals and civil society should speak up. "This whole connection is not only being overlooked but is ridiculed and the Government is going ahead with its plan in these two election years.

Whether it is the question of drinking water, displacement, floods, drought, farmers or fishermen — will it really solve the problems or worsen them. Whatever little surface or ground water remains in the hands of people and is accessible to them is being snatched. This has to be challenged by the tribal and riverine populations, who would be the prime targets. Mr. Suresh Prabhu as Task Force Chairman, who is giving face to this abstract project, must come face to face with the people," she said.  Stressing people's right to information, Ms. Patkar said to start with, there was no information and later the project would become "fait accompli" on the pretext that some amount had been spent on it, as it happened in the Sardar Sarovar Project.

"By the time the project is implemented, its cost would increase manifold and not even the World Bank and the ADB would be able to fund it and multi-nationals and anti-national agencies would step in." Mr. Iyer said the Constitution did not mention intra-basin transfers. He said even long-standing inter-basin disputes were unresolved. "If consensus was worked out on quid pro quo inducements or political compromises how lasting would those be. If the only principle that'll work would be money then it'd be dangerous and would have implications on international treaties with neighbouring countries," he said.  The environmentalist, Shekhar Singh, said interlinking rivers with different biological, chemical contents and ecosystems was like linking blood vessels without checking the blood group.  The meeting, organised by the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People, Toxics Link and Ecological Foundation, decided to convene similar meetings in parts of the country to generate awareness. It also decided to bring together various social groups working in the sector on a common platform.  It said that drinking water was a local issue and could be tackled with water harvesting projects and changes in cropping pattern.

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United Nations
May 16, 2003

16 May – A French national has been named the next chief of the United Nations World Meteorological Organization (WMO).  Countries meeting in Geneva for the fourteenth World Meteorological Congress appointed Michel Jarraud yesterday evening to a four-year term as Secretary-General of the WMO. He will succeed current chief Godwin O.P. Obasi of Nigeria on 1 January 2004. In his acceptance message, Mr. Jarraud highlighted many future challenges, including natural disaster prevention and mitigation, the affect of climate change, the development of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) as well as hydrology and water resources.  Before joining WMO in January 1995 as Deputy Secretary-General, Mr. Jarraud worked at the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF).

Established as a specialized agency of the United Nations in 1951, WMO facilitates international cooperation in the establishment of networks of stations for making meteorological, hydrological and other observations, and to promote the rapid exchange of meteorological information, the standardization of meteorological observations and the uniform publication of observations and statistics. The 187-member Organization also furthers the application of meteorology to aviation, shipping, water problems, agriculture and other human activities, promotes operational hydrology and encourages research and training in meteorology.

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United Nations
May 16, 2003

16 May – Only through full support from the developed world can there be any hope of developing countries achieving the ambitious goals set by the United Nations Millennium Summit, Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette said today.  Worsening economic conditions have increased the challenge of achieving the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), ranging from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS to providing universal primary education, all by 2015, Ms. Fréchette told the Council of Ministers of the joint African, Caribbean and Pacific Group (ACP) and the European Union (EU) in Brussels.

“Let us be clear,” she warned. “The MDGs can be achieved only if efforts in developing countries are supported by those with the means to provide the ODA [Overseas Development Assistance], debt relief, market access and stimulation of foreign direct investment that are needed.”  She said the UN was mounting a four-pronged strategy to support the Goals. The first was to develop the tools to monitor progress at the global, regional and country level. Second was the launching of the Millennium Project, to identify the best strategies and practices for achieving the goals, and the Millennium Campaign.  The third prong was to build popular and political support for the MDGs. Finally, she said the UN would concentrate efforts to provide concrete, coordinated assistance to partner countries.  “Achieving the Millennium Goals would transform the life of millions of people,” she concluded. “If we can build truly effective support at the country level, and sustained political commitment at the global level, we have a good chance of achieving them.”  Earlier today Ms. Fréchette met with Chris Patten, the European Commission’s External Relations Commissioner. She is due to return to New York tomorrow.

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Daily News (Sri Lanka)
May 16, 2003

The 19th Session of the Governing Council of UN-HABITAT was held at the UN Headquarters at Nairobi, Kenya from May 5 to 9.  More than 500 delegates from 187 member countries of the UN including Sri Lanka along with the local authorities, parliamentarians, non-governmental organisations as well as private sector representatives from around the world and various UN and inter-governmental organisations participated in this conference.  On the invitation of UN-HABITAT's Executive Director, Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, Vice President of Kenya Michael Wamalawa ceremonially inaugurated the inaugural session of this conference. At this inaugural session, Kenya's Vice President Wamalwa said that sustainable development cannot be achieved unless the world tackled the slum problems. He urged the UN-HABITAT and UN Environment Programme to work together in order to respond effectively to the challenges of rapid urbanisation.

At this inaugural session the UN Executive Director said that their main focus is to upgrade the slums, mainly by providing shelters and uplifting sanitation, in the world's cities and to fight urban poverty. She urged governments to formulate national policies designed to address the problem of migration from rural to urban areas, which she said was the main factor causing slums to much problems in developing countries.

Minister of Housing and Plantation Infrastructure Arumugan Thondaman led the Sri Lankan delegation for this conference. Sri Lanka was elected at this conference for the chairmanship in the Asian Group for the next two years and Minister Thondaman has been selected as the Vice President of the 19th Session of this UN-HABITAT. Minister Arumugan Thondaman said "Sri Lanka is at a critical juncture in the history. A major opportunity is within reach to restore peace and bring to an end the 20-year-old conflict that has stifled the social and economic advancement of this country".

He further said that this is also a critical period for Sri Lanka in another respect. Sri Lanka's economic growth had been slower than expected. It was due to a number of factors including the accumulated burden of the costs of the conflict and the deterioration in recent times of the management of the economy. Our human settlements strategies are accordingly developed for addressing the above objectives of the Government specially meeting the human settlements and shelter requirements of the rural, urban and estate sector poor, the Minister said.

The 19th session of the UN-HABITAT in Nairobi was held under two special themes - urban development and shelter strategies favouring the poor, and the rural dimension of sustainable urban development. It will also consider and adopt UN-HABITAT's working programme for the years 2004 and 2005 and the proposed budget for the United Nations Habitat and Human Settlements Foundation for the same period. This conference focused on wide-ranging dialogues with Mayors and other local authorities, representatives from around the world, as well as youth and civil society organisations. Other than the above main themes, conference delegates also discussed the various activities on water and sanitation for cities and the millennium development goals, reconstruction and recovery following conflict and natural disasters, UN-HABITAT operational activities and the future of cities.

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The Australian
May 16, 2003

JOHN Howard has rejected a bid for a political leaders' summit on fixing the Murray River, insisting "processes already established" to help the river should run their course. South Australian Premier Mike Rann released a letter from the Prime Minister's office yesterday in which senior adviser Brett Cox says Mr Howard is happy to leave the river crisis to the Murray-Darling Basin ministerial council.  The council is scheduled to meet again in October to consider a technical report on the effects of additional water flows down the river.  Mr Rann said yesterday the decline in the river was a matter of national importance which "the commonwealth ... is not taking seriously enough".

He wrote to Mr Howard on February 19, calling for a special Council of Australian Governments meeting on the issue. The response from Mr Cox was received by Mr Rann's office on May 8.  "This is above party politics. Tackling this issue must be the moral equivalent of war. All of us have to sign up to fight the fight and win it," Mr Rann said, on the day his Environment Minister, John Hill, announced a "high probability" of water restrictions in Adelaide next summer. Mr Hill said it was likely that, for the first time, there would not be enough water in the river to supply South Australia's entitlement of 1850 gigalitres of domestic water supplies. He said there was a danger the river would drop too low for water to be extracted for pumping to Adelaide and other South Australian centres.

Australian Conservation Foundation president Peter Garrett also criticised the federal Government yesterday and called on Canberra to "square up to its national responsibilities" on "a river for all Australians". "It's past the 11th hour for the Murray; the federal Government in its budget did not deliver to the Murray.  "The South Australian Government needs to step up to the plate and it needs to encourage its counterparts to come on board and continue the process of getting water into the river," Mr Garrett said. It was crucial for South Australia to get its "own house in order", he said, and for the state Government to be outspoken in its claim for more water down the Murray.  South Australia could have applied water restrictions last summer to send a message upstream about the condition of the river, he suggested.  However, Mr Hill said that according to scientific advice, restrictions had been unnecessary. He announced legislative amendments giving the Rann Government powers to regulate water use and impose restrictions.  He also indicated there would be higher penalties - particularly for irrigators - for breaches of water-use laws and on-the-spot fines for householders.

"There will be permanent changes in the way we use water," Mr Hill said.  Mr Rann said strategies to save the river would be announced in the May 29 state budget.

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The Hindu
May 16, 2003

Bangalore May 16. Amidst the hype over the formation of the Task Force on Linking of Rivers, opposition to the ambitious proposal of the Union Government seems to be growing.  S.N. Guru Rau, former Chief Engineer of the Central Water Commission, has said that the diversion of a river could pose a public health hazard, and called for a study before implementing the proposal.  In a paper, "Linking of Ganga-Cauvery: Is it essential?", presented at a seminar on the issue, Mr. Rau said the proposal to link the Ganga with the Cauvery, which had been in cold storage for decades, had suddenly found favour with political leaders. Wide publicity was also being given to the proposal. "Every river has its own established regime, and its study on a scientific basis calls for an extensive, explorative, geo-technical, hydro-geological, and socio-environmental assessment," he said.

He said that a case study of the Sardar Sarovar project across the Narmada vividly portrayed the inadequacies of impact studies on dams in the Narmada Basin. The independent Bradford Morse review report prepared in 1992 castigated the World Bank, the Union Government, State governments, and the Narmada authorities for their failure to take into account the findings of studies, and led to the withdrawal of funding for the project, he added. Mr. Rau said if a project involving one river system threw up complications, one envisaging linking a river in the north to a river in the south, over varying geo-morphological terrains, would be more complex. He charged that the Centre had put forward the proposal to link rivers apparently to divert attention from its "failure" to resolve the Cauvery dispute.

Integration of resources.

A paper presented by Y. Lingaraju, Director of the Water Resource Development Organisation of the Karnataka Government, said 86 taluks had been identified as drought-prone in the State. To mitigate drought, water management had to be planned by integrating surface water and groundwater. The Karnataka State Remote Sensing Application Centre was involved in preparing action plans. He said there were large tracts of dryland districts where the groundwater resource was depleted to a large extent. Any effort, such as a watershed programme, would not bring back the geohydrological situation that existed earlier. Water from surplus basins should be brought to Gadag, Chitradurga, Bellary, Tumkur, and Kolar districts.

The buzzword was linking of rivers. But, he said: "Because Karnataka has an elevated position topographically, the chances of getting the benefit of Ganga-Cauvery linkage is very poor. Although the State has high potential in the west-flowing rivers, it is a Herculean task to link (them) because of topographic variations and environmental issues." An environmentally benign and cost-effective surface water transfer was yet to be worked out, he added.

Jagdeesh Mavinakere, former irrigation engineer in Maharashtra, said that linking the Netravathi and the Hemavathi would benefit Nagamangala, Tiptur, Turuvekere, and Gubbi taluks. Similarly, a linkage between the Krishna and the Penna would benefit Deodurg, Lingasagur, Kustagi and Sandur taluks. D. Gangappa, Convenor of the Akhila Bharata Jalasangama Andolan, expressed apprehension over the implementation of the project to divert the Mahanadi in Orissa towards Manibhadra, Pochampalli, and Polavaram by constructing dams on the coastline. This would cause a catastrophic situation in the area. He suggested that the project, which would not help Karnataka, be diverted towards Chhatisgarh, Telangana, and Rayalaseema, and linked to Bidar, Gulbarga, Bijapur, Dharwad, Raichur, Bellary, Chitradurga, Tumkur and Kolar through Maharashtra. From Karnataka, the river could be diverted to towns such as Dharmapuri, Vellore, Tiruvannamalai, Salem, Tiruchi, Karur, Madurai, and Ramanathapuram in Tamil Nadu, and finally to the Cauvery river, he said.  

See Also:

River-link project is within the law, rules SC, Economic Times, May 16, 2003,

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Edie weekly summaries
May 16, 2003

A group of organisations concerned about freshwater issues in the UK has launched an awareness raising campaign as part of the UN International Year of Freshwater. The campaign, launched by naturalist and broadcaster Chris Packham, aims to have a long-lasting effect on the UK’s perception of freshwater, and addresses issues such as water quality, droughts, flooding and climate change.

The H2O03 scheme is being supported by groups such as the Environment Agency, the Department for International Development (DFID), the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, and WaterAid. It will include three national competitions, for writing, art and photography, and the production of a national collection of freshwater sites.  “We want everyone from school children to government ministers to take part,” said Rob Flavin of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.

The campaign will culminate in a meeting of water professionals on 9 September, who will discuss what is required to conserve freshwater resources in the UK.  Problems associated with a lack of freshwater resources include the plight of the common frog, which is in a serious state of decline in rural areas, said Chris Packham. “But they are increasing in urban areas as they decline in the countryside,” he added, explaining that this maybe largely due to the fashion for garden water features, encouraged by the plethora of garden makeover programmes on the television. It shows that management of freshwater can give nature a helping hand, he pointed out.

Climate change will also cause problems with freshwater, producing both droughts and floods. “Climate change is on our doorstep. Those that deny it is real are pretty ‘flat-earthist’,” Packam said.

Fortunately, there is good news for freshwater, particularly with the announcement on 12 May by the Environment Agency of the successful return of the otter to British waterways. Signs of otters have been spotted at 527% more locations than at the end of the 1970s.  The London Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust centre at Barn Elms, where the H2O03 campaign was launched, is also a symbol of success for freshwater. The reserve was constructed from four water reservoirs, and is now home to a variety of wetland wildlife, including three over-wintering bitterns, one of the UK’s most elusive wetland birds. “This place is a triumph of creative conservation,” said Chris Packham. “We’ve learnt scientifically how to recreate habitats.”

As with coastal water, there have been recent improvements in the state of the UK’s freshwater resources, Andrew Skinner, Head of Environmental Quality at the Environment Agency, told edie. However, there need to be more holistic improvements, such as through land management practices and the treatment of contaminated land, he said. Although the campaign is largely focused on British freshwater resources, there is also an international aspect to it. “The international dimension to the UN year must also be stressed,” said Flavin. “Over one billion people in the world lack access to safe water and 2.4 billion lack access to adequate sanitation. A child dies every 15 seconds from diseases associated with lack of access to these basic resources.” DFID provides advice and support on freshwater issues in a number of countries around the world. The department has also funded projects such as research carried out by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology into the sustainable use of dams around the world, and a project run by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust promoting ecotourism in Amazonia.

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The Nation (Nairobi)
May 16, 2003

The Water Act may have to be changed to accommodate the participation of private investors in supplying the key necessity. A study commissioned by the World Bank and the Public-Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility (PPIAF) faults the piece of legislation, saying it was developed with restructuring, rather than private sector participation in mind. Plans by the government, encouraged by the lender community, to privatise the provision of water and sanitation services in major towns have sparked major controversy.

The issue was expected to be a major flashpoint at yesterday's conference as the delegates retreated into sector-specific so-called break-out sessions which were closed to the media.

These were meant to come up with the optimal strategy for the involvement of private business in building and running Kenyan roads, rail, water and sanitation, ports and airports, telecommunications and energy.

Plans by the government to cede provision of water services to profiteers has been met by loud resistance from an organised lobby fronted by non-governmental organisations and other civic agencies. They argue that water is a basic human right whose provision should not be tied to the vagaries of price, demand and supply and cite several countries where similar initiatives failed to improve access. They favour greater efficiency among existing suppliers.Even then, it would appear that the government has already made up its mind and is continuing with the privatisation programme.

In Nairobi, a Water Service Board has been established, while studies done in Nairobi, Mombasa and the Coast have recommended a lease as the appropriate option for involving private business. A similar study has been commissioned for the third city of Kisumu, while in Malindi a private investor is already in business, the beneficiary of a management contract with that town's local authority. According to the report by the advisory body and the World Bank, access to safe water is only 65 per cent in urban and 35 per cent in rural areas. Almost a third of the population lacks decent sanitation services. It is estimated that an investment of $1.4 billion (Sh93.8 billion)-which denotes about 40 per cent of the country's total budget-would be needed for immediate rehabilitation and medium-term expansion of piped water supply and sanitation systems in the country.

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The Hindu
May 16, 2003

NEW DELHI MAY 16. India will be on the list of water-stressed countries by the year 2025 when nearly half the world population will experience water shortage. Today, nearly 1.2 billion people do not have access to safe drinking water.  The stress on water resources is the result of a multitude of factors such as rapidly rising population and changing lifestyles that have increased the need for freshwater and intense competition among agriculture, industry and the domestic sector that is pushing the groundwater table deeper. Nearly 40 per cent of India's urban population, which is below the poverty line, has no access to water. The scenario in rural India is no better. In 1985, there were 750 villages without water resources, with the number increasing to 65,000 villages in 1996.

But these figures of fast depleting water table have another story to tell. It has changed the lifestyle of the villages. Researchers at The Energy and Resources Institute, with funding from the United Nations Population Fund, tried to understand the linkages between population and water by carrying out a survey at the national and village levels to ascertain the impact of population growth on water resources and that of availability of water and water quality on the life of the people, particularly women and children.

The study conducted in 350 households in 20 villages in the districts of Thiruvananthapuram, Solan, Raichur and Bikaner threw up some interesting facts. In all the villages surveyed, water scarcity was a common problem but the perceptions were different. For some areas in Bikaner and Raichur, water shortage meant shortage even for drinking and in Solan, the problem connoted shortage for irrigation purposes.

For instance, of the villages surveyed in Bikaner, there were cases of households with 5-6 members managing with just 10 litres of water a day while in the villages of Solan, drinking water did not appear to be a problem, but water for irrigation was an immediate requirement. On the other hand, the villages surveyed in Thiruvananthapuram did not face water scarcity except in summer months when few households in coastal villages experienced the problem of salt-water mixing with the water in wells.  In all the villages surveyed, it appeared that there was considerable effort for collecting water for drinking and other household uses. The stress varied from region to region depending on water resources, waiting time and number of trips required. In all of the villages surveyed in Raichur, Solan and Bikaner, the burden of water collection was on women and children (mostly girls), who spent several hours every day on the activity.

Most women respondents complained of frequent backaches as they had to carry heavy pots of water. In Raichur, the villagers also felt they were unable to send their children to school as they were required for household chores, including collecting water. In the villages of Bikaner, a few relatively better-off households and several of those belonging to the Rajput community (where women were not allowed to go out) spent as much as one-fourth of their income on hiring carts for carrying water and investing close to six-months' income in maintaining storage facilities.

Diarrhoea was a frequent problem in all villages surveyed in Raichur, Solan and Bikaner though the villagers did not perceive it as primarily a water-related problem. Group discussion also indicated that there were conflicts over water in some of the villages in Solan and Bikaner. Findings from the field surveys indicated the vicious circular linkages between poverty and environmental degradation.  While the poor were most vulnerable to water-related stress, income and wealth were also contributing factors. In some villages of Bikaner, low caste women said they had to wait for many hours at the water source for a sympathetic woman of higher caste to come and fill their pots.  The study also indicated that the government-provided water sources were few. Water availability was restricted by inadequate and erratic power supply in the villages of Bikaner and Raichur districts where power was reported for only 3-4 hours a day, against the required 8 hours. Government schemes were also marred by poor maintenance and poor sanitation, the study revealed.

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May 15, 2003

On May 15, 2003, the Central Asia Natural Resources Management Program (NRMP), funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), held a roundtable discussion on “Sustainability of Water Users Associations in Uzbekistan”. 40 representatives participated in this event including oblast and district administrations, Taxation Committees, Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources, Ministry of Justice, Pakhtabank, members from local Water Users Associations (WUA) and journalists.

During the session the participants discussed implementation and results of economic reforms in the agricultural sector, water management services provided to farmers, problems and potential for development of WUAs, and the farmers’ views of the situation. Particular attention was given to the organizational, economical and financial factors affecting the sustainability of the WUA in different regions of Uzbekistan.

The main objectives of the roundtable discussions were to educate public and government agencies, in particular the Legislative and Taxation authorities, on WUA concept, benefits and constraints for development and to discuss and develop recommendations on financial, economic and organizational sustainability of WUAs for the government of Uzbekistan. “One of the aims of the session was to raise the awareness of the role and significance of the WUAs among the public and local authorities. We hope that this roundtable will introduce goals and objectives of the WUAs to local governmental administrators who could significantly assist WUAs in maintaining sustainability,” commented John Baxter, NRMP Water Specialist.

The Water Users Associations willl be the cornerstone for a revival of irrigated agriculture in the region. Each WUA will manage and operate the irrigation and drainage network within a certain territory to optimize the use of available water resources and to help farmers raise their standard of living. This roundtable is one in a series of discussions organized by NRMP to support and ensure sustainability of the WUAs. Previous roundtables held in Nukus and Urgench facilitated development of recommendations and establishing closer contacts between the WUAs and local authorities. It is planned to continue the roundtable discussions at other WUAs locations in Navoi and Gulistan. The developed recommendations for WUAs’ sustainability will be summarized and submitted to the Government of Uzbekistan.

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May 15, 2003

OUAGADOUGOU, May 15 (IPS) - For 25-year-old Ablasse Kindo, selling water has been his life. For nearly half his life, it has provided him with all his comforts.  But of late Kindo has been experiencing unusual water scarcity as he plies his trade in Pissy, a poor suburb of Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso.  ''You have to wait until 2 or 3 O'clock in the morning when water begins to trickle from the tap,'' Kindo says. ''In the past, water rationing used to start in April''. Not anymore. The weather pattern seems to have changed. Since February, the City of Ouagadougou has experienced water shortages, and rationing has begun in earnest in parts of the capital. ''The poor can't afford to sleep anymore because if they do, they'll never get water,'' says Sita Kabore, a housewife in Pissy.

Before February, a 200-litre barrel of water used to cost 60 CFA (about 10 U.S. cents). But the price has now shot up to 1,500 CFA (about 25 U.S. dollars), thanks to the shortage and speculation by vendors. In January, the National Office of Water and Sanitation, a state-run corporation, banned washing vehicles and filling swimming pools in a bid to conserve water. ''Demands are greater than supplies and our production capacities are limited,'' says Dieudonne Sawadogo of the National Office of Water and Sanitation. ''Rapid urbanisation and population growth require alternative resources of which, unfortunately, there are few''.

About 80 percent of Ouagadougou's population, estimated at 1.2 million, is served by the National Office of Water and Sanitation, which has 40,000 subscribers and 600 public water outlets. During the hot season, which begins in February, temperatures in Burkina Faso, especially in Ouagadougou, frequently hit the 44-degree-centigrade mark. The water deficit in the capital stands between 15,000 and 20,000 cubic metres per day during peak time. Unfortunately, the National Office of Water and Sanitation can only supply 58,000 cubic metres of potable water -- out of the 70,000 to 75,000 cubic metres -- per day.

From February, most dams dry up and the local authorities suspend all cleaning work. ''Technically, the cleanings are unsuccessful anyway, because sediments, which prevent the water from evaporating, have built up over decades and in certain spots, they run the risk of removing this layer,'' explains Joseph Martin Kabore, who is in charge of the Ziga Dam north of Ouagadougou. To Kabore, the cleaning, which can cost up to a billion CFA (about 1.7 million U.S. dollars) for a small patch, is not worth the money spent, as it makes little difference in the life of the consumer, anyway.

The population of Ouagadougou, according to the National Office of Water and Sanitation, is growing by four to five percent a year, whereas its resources are increasing by only three percent. ''Burkina Faso's geographic location is responsible for its water problems; its flatness makes its hard to build dams and drill rigs,'' Sawadogo explains. Studies by the National Office of Water and Sanitation show that one drill rig at Bobo-Dioulasso (the country's second city in the southwest) can produce up to 250 cubic metres of water per hour, while a drill rig in Ouagadougou only yields 15 to 20 cubic metres. To improve water flow, the National Office of Water and Sanitation plans to invest about three billion CFA (about five million U.S. dollars) in the Ziga dam this year.

Ziga Dam, located 40 kilometres from Ouagadougou, will be put into operation. With a 200-million-cubic metre capacity, the dam, built on the Nakambe River, is expected to increase the flow of clean drinking water by 2013. ''The National Office of Water and Sanitation, established 25 years ago, only produces 2,000 cubic metres per hour; the Ziga dam will produce 3,000 cubic metres per hour and eventually 9,500 cubic metres,'' says Kabore. Construction work on the Ziga Dam began in 1999 at 150 billion CFA (about 250 million U.S. dollars). ''This will mean the end of suffering for the people of Ouagadougou. Even in the dry season, there will always be enough water to take care of the city's needs,'' says Kabore.

By 2005, work on the dam will allow for 50,000 new households to be supplied with clean running water and for the creation of an additional 400 public water outlets. Built for Ouagadougou, the 80-sq-km dam will also be connected to several other smaller cities. ''This important investment will be a burden on the National Office of Water and Sanitation's finances, so we have to amortise the costs to guarantee its financial stability, still maintaining, however, our social responsibility to the consumers,'' Kabore says. For the work to begin, the Burkinabe authorities must first obtain a signed agreement, as demanded by the donors, with the Ghanaian government. The water from the Nakambe River passes through the Akossombo Dam in Ghana. (END/2003).

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May 15, 2003

ISLAMABAD : Pakistan would invest $ 33.6 billion in rehabilitation/new projects in water and power sector till the year 2025.The Government would need an average of $ 500 million of external financing per annum in next 10 years to overcome water shortage. This was stated by Aftab Ahmed Khan Shepao, Federal Minister for Water & Power while making a presentation on Pakistan's Vision of Water Resources Management at Pakistan Development Forum (PDF) here on Wednesday. He said that per capita water availability in Pakistan is 1200 cubic meter. About 95 percent of water is used for agricultural processes as this sector contributes 25 percent to GDP, provided 47 % of employment and earns 60 % of foreign exchange earnings.

Mr. Sherpao briefed the participants about key issues in the water sector. He said that storage capacity of existing reservoirs is depleting fast with 25% capacity already lost. Increasing demand of water for food, fiber and power put strain on the available water resources. Pakistan spent 22% form the allocations made in annual public sector development programmes in the period of 1996-2002. The Minister said that government has developed National water Vision to meet further demands. By 2025 Pakistan should have adequate water available through conservation, development and good governance. Through an efficient and integrated management, institutional and legal systems that would ensure sustainable utilization of the water resources and support economic and social development, he added.

For the national water vision, Pakistan has an elaborate programme of hydropower development, WAPDA's vision 2025 and National Policy that shall be presented for the federal cabinet approval. The Minister informed PDF participants that ongoing water and power sector projects shall add 5.64 million-acre feet (MAF) of water to irrigate 3,259, 106 acre of land and provided an extra 2,443 MW of hydropower. Similarly prospective water storage projects would provide 31.59 MAF water and 11,700 MW of power, he added. I visualize a future, where this land can be the transaction center for energy flows between the energy surplus Northern and the growing demand of South Asia, said, Mr. Aftab Khan Sherpao. He emphasized that water and power is the key to prosperity and economic development of the Pakistan and need constant focus planners and donors. The minister hoped that the participants member countries of PDF and other donors shall include this sector in their portfolio of projects for donor assistance.

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Daily Times (Pakistan)
May 15, 2003

ISLAMABAD: Donor agencies on Wednesday did not respond positively on Pakistan’s request for funding future big water reservoirs and instead emphasised that Pakistan should save 32 million acre feet (MAF) of water which is wasted every year in the saline zone because of improper lining of water courses and canals.

The donors include the international Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank (WB), Asian Development Bank (ADB), Islamic Development Bank (IDB), the United Arab Emirates, Sweden and Japan.

During the discussion session after presentations by Minister of Water and Power Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao and the deputy chairman Planning Division on the last day of Pakistan Development Forum (PDF), the donors stressed for the immediate implementation of the Water Pricing Mechanism (WPM) in Pakistan. The agencies were of the view that with the implementation of WPM, people would use water rationally. Head of the Resident Mission of World Bank John Wall also stressed the need for institutional reforms in the water sector. However, Mr Wall supported the establishment of a water council, which Mr Sherpao had mentioned in his presentation.

Head of the Resident Mission of the Asian Development Bank Marshul Ali Shah said Pakistan should first have a national water policy approved by the cabinet and develop consensus on the controversial projects which are mentioned in the presentation like the Kalabagh Dam, the Greater Thal Canal Project, and then ask for the funding. Mr Shah also stressed the need to resolve the problems in the National Drainage Programme. The representative of Sweden said the Kalabgha Dam should be a consensus project and the government should have the political will to initiate the project. The representative of Japan expressed concern on the substandard quality of drinking water in most parts of Pakistan and said the country needed effective steps to eradicate water pollution. He said “bad” governance in the water sector was on the rise.

Earlier, Mr Sherpao in his presentation said the government has increased the fund allocation for water projects by 22 percent in the Public Sector Development Programme and sought the constant focus of investors and donors for 6 mega water dams including the Kalabagh Dam and 11 hydropower projects. The minister said these projects needed over $33 billion to be completed. “However, Pakistan wants US $ 500 million in funds every year from the donors for a 10-year period,” he said.

Deputy Chairman of the Planning Division Shahid Amjad Chaudhry in his presentation said 32 MAF water which was being wasted could be saved. He said the irrigation system in Sindh needed to be revamped. He demanded multinational donors fund the Flood Protection Project. However, the poor homework done by the Ministry of Water and Power and the Planning Division was exposed when the donors pointed out differences in the figures quoted by Mr Sherpao and Mr Chaudhry in their separate presentations on the availability of water in the country. Noor Mohammad Baloch, the Sindh member in the Indus River System Authority (IRSA) said the lower riparian water rights should be safeguarded while initiating water projects. Mr Sherpao assured the donors that the WPM would be implemented as the government was in touch with the provincial governments about it. He said provincial irrigation and power departments would be decentralised.

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May 14,2003

Rome -- Michel Camdessus, Honorary Governor of the Bank of France and former Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Tuesday called for long-term assistance from developed countries and long-term policies from developing countries to tackle the roots of hunger and poverty.  Speaking to the Committee on World Food Security, meeting at UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) headquarters, Mr. Camdessus stressed the importance of clean water and said that an increase of $100 billion a year was needed to bring safe water to the 1.1 billion people who now do without.

Mr. Camdessus said that primary responsibility for bringing safe, clean water to people in the developing world rests with the developing countries themselves and that the most important thing developing countries can do is to have a water policy. He urged developing countries to report publicly on how they intend to achieve the Millennium Development Goals adopted by UN member states in 2000 and urged them to establish transparent governance.  He had this advice for developed countries: official development assistance for water needs to be doubled, and it needs to be carefully targeted to the poor. Mr. Camdessus called FAO's Special Programme for Food Security "an excellent example" of carefully targeted development assistance.

"We may have lost a battle against hunger," Mr. Camdessus said, "but we have not lost the war. We have available many resources and strategies we have not used sufficiently, so far." He cited the "amazing potential of research" and the untapped potential of more decisive participation by women in all decision-making processes regarding food and the Millennium Development Goals. Mr. Camdessus repeated the call by French President Jacques Chirac for developed countries to adopt a moratorium on export subsidies on goods destined for Africa for the duration of the Doha round of World Trade Organization agriculture negotiations.

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BuaNews (Pretoria)
May 14, 2003

The United Nations (UN) Commission on Sustainable Development says follow-ups to the World Summit held in Johannesburg last year will for the next two years focus on water, sanitation and human settlements.

The UN body was charged with monitoring progress made by the world's government's in implementing the agreements of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) held in August and September last year. The UN commission on sustainable development concluded its annual meeting last Friday.

'By concentrating on a few issues every two-year cycle, the commission signaled its intention to make practical steps towards making sustainable development a reality,' the UN said on Monday.

Commenting at the end of the meeting, the UN head of the department of economic and social affairs Nitin Desai, who is also secretary-general of the WSSD, said: 'Unless something dramatically new happens, we are not going to reach our goals of providing 200 000 people with access to freshwater every day and 300 000 people with access to sanitation each day. He said the UN was also aware of this. According to the UN, about 1.2 billion people, or 18 percent of the world's population, needed access to clean drinking water and over 2.4 billion people (40 per cent of the world's people) lacked access to adequate sanitation.

It said more than 2.2 million people in developing countries, most of them children, died each year from diseases associated with lack of access to safe drinking water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene.

Mr Desai said 'at the Johannesburg Summit, governments reaffirmed the Millennium Development Goal of reducing by half the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water ...(and those )without access to basic sanitation by 2015.' He warned that at the present rate of investment, universal access to safe drinking water couldn't reasonably be anticipated before 2050 in Africa, 2040 in Latin America and the Caribbean and 2025 in Asia. But he stressed: 'It is very good that water is our first focus.'

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The Nation (Nairobi)
May 14, 2003

Germany will give Kenya 30 million euros (Sh2.4 billion) to improve water services. This follows the conclusion of talks between the two governments last month on future cooperation in the country's water projects, said Mr Klaus Mitzlaff, the director of German Technical Cooperation in Kenya. The funding, to run between 2004 and 2007, will cover water resource management and sanitation, Mr Mitzlaff said, adding that Kenya had received 170 million euros (Sh13.6 billion) from Germany to support water projectsin the last 30 years.

The two governments had agreed on a strategy for support within policy initiatives such as the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper, the Narc manifesto and the Economic Recovery Strategy. The official praised the creation of the ministry of Water Resources Management and Development, the passing into law of the Water Act and the development of the National Policy on Water Resource Management. Mr Mitzlaff spoke as the World Bank, international development agencies and other donors committed themselves to supporting the country's water improvement services. Representatives of the organisations - under the auspices of the Joint Water Resources Mission - spoke at a forum hosted by the Water minister, Ms Martha Karua, in Nairobi, under the theme; "Towards Development of a Water Secure Kenya."

The forum seeks to mobilise donor's support for water management reforms and development in Kenya.

The Swedish International Development Agency and the Worldwide Fund for Nature are represented at the meeting. The World Bank country director, Mr Makhtar Diop, said Kenya, unlike its neighbours had inadequate water, a situation which he said was bad for the economy. He urged the government to plan how to curb flooding, which in recent weeks has caused many deaths and loss of property. A Swedish agency official, Mr Bengt Johansson, disclosed that discussions were on between the organisation and the government on increased support in the water projects from January next year.

Ms Karua said water resource management in the country should be treated as a national priority spelt out in the development plan and economic recovery efforts. On water situation in Kenya, Mr Johansson said the country was faced with huge challenges as its population has nearly tripled in the past thirty years yet the amount of water coming into the country through the hydrological cycle remained the same. WWF's Regional Representative Dr Sam Kanyamibwa attributed the problem of fresh water deficiency in Kenya and other countries around the world to continuing degradation of land and water ecosystems. He disclosed that the organisation was starting an Integrated River Basin Management for Mara River under the Africa Rivers Initiative which seeks to establish sustainable water management in rivers that flow across several boundaries. Dr Kanyamibwa said the WWF supports the government's efforts to promote sustainable water management system in the country. Ms Karua, said her ministry was putting in place a National Water Resource Management Strategy and Water Sector Investment Plan to lay foundation for sound water resources management. She said water resource management in the country must now be elevated as a national priority and given its rightful place in the country's development plan and economic recovery efforts.

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News Today (India)
May 14, 2003

National Dairy Development Board and UNICEF are drawing up State-specific joint action-plan for implementation of rural sanitation and hygiene leading to clean milk production. In the process, they would create a knowledge network for hygiene and sanitation practices for healthy human life and clean milk production. This joint effort also hopes to ensure water security for both the human and cattle population in adequate quantity and of appropriate quality and focus on household sanitation facilities for human population and cattle population.

At a workshop on rural sanitation, hygiene and health, dairy board chairman Amrita Patel said focus should be on increased participation by women in governance and decision-making at the village and union-levels. Head of Water, Environment and Sanitation, UNICEF India, Henk van Norden, speaking at the workshop, gave an overview of UNICEF's activities in India and referred to the common interest with the dairy board in the areas of hygiene and rural sanitation especially for children and women who were directly or indirectly affecting quality of raw milk. The workshop was attended by 54 participants, comprising 12 Chief Executive or selected Dairy Cooperative Milk Producers Unions from 12 States where UNICEF was operating, and 10 representatives from the world body.

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May 14, 2003

OTTAWA, ON, May 14 /CNW/ - The Honourable Robert D. Nault, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development Canada, the Honourable Anne McLellan, Minister of Health Canada and the Honourable David Anderson, Minister of Environment Canada, today announced $600 million in new funding targeted

towards improving the quality of water and wastewater treatment in First Nations communities. This funding was provided in the February 2003 federal Budget and builds on the Government of Canada's investments in water.

The three Ministers also announced a seven-part First Nations Water Management Strategy aimed at improving the safety of water supplies in First Nations communities. The strategy will address the urgent need for water quality on-reserve, an issue the Government of Canada takes very seriously. The Government of Canada has been proactive in addressing priority water needs in First Nation communities. In addition to the $600 million announced today, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) has already provided an additional $86 million over and above the regular annual allocation of more than $100 million for water and sewer projects in First Nations communities across Canada. This funding will impact more than 65 major projects in 62 First Nation communities in the next two fiscal years as well as numerous major and minor projects over a five-year period.

"Implementation of this strategy will enable First Nations to address crucial elements including: infrastructure upgrades, effective operations and maintenance, certification of operators, and stronger inspection, monitoring and reporting regimes," said Minister Nault. "In partnership with First

Nations, we are working to improve the quality of life in First Nation communities, and the quality of water supplies is priority." The seven-part strategy will be implemented over the next five years, and

provides for the coherent and structured management of water quality on reserves consistent with the multi-barrier (source to tap) approach. This includes protecting source water from pollution such as wastewater effluents, as well as providing effective drinking water treatment and distribution of drinking water. The seven parts of the strategy include:

  • upgrading and building water and wastewater facilities;

  • effective water quality monitoring combined with a comprehensive and coordinated compliance and reporting regime;

  • an effective and sustainable operation and maintenance program designed to ensure the quality of water supplies;

  • continued expansion and enhancement of operator training and certification programs;

  • integrated water quality management protocols;

  • a public awareness campaign targeted at First Nation leaders, administrators and individual householders; and

  • the establishment of a set of clearly defined standards, comprehensive protocols and policies.

"Ensuring the provision of clean, safe and reliable drinking water in First Nation communities continues to be a top priority for the Government of Canada, as demonstrated through this new funding," said Minister McLellan. "Health Canada and First Nation communities will work together to protect and enhance drinking water quality on-reserve through the development of comprehensive protocols and improved drinking water monitoring." The Ministers also released the results of the report entitled National Assessment of Water and Wastewater Systems in First Nations Communities. The report outlines the results of a recent comprehensive on-site assessment of all First Nations water and wastewater facilities undertaken by INAC in order to fully understand the situation on-reserve. The assessment provides information on the number of systems that meet Canadian water quality standards as well as information on deficiencies and recommended improvements. It also helps identify priority infrastructure upgrades that will be a focus of the seven-part strategy. The assessments in the report are already helping First Nations address the most pressing needs for the delivery of safe, clean water for communities. In many cases, improvements have already begun.

"The First Nations Water Management Strategy provides a model for protecting water quality from source to tap," noted Environment Minister David Anderson. "This investment will help ensure a multi-barrier approach to protecting source and drinking water quality for all First Nation communities. Through partnerships, investments in infrastructures, and through federal science and regulations, we will continue to promote high environmental health standards for all Canadians."   The Budget 2003 investment in First Nation water systems is a key initiative and builds on other commitments for better infrastructure in all

Canadian communities. Canada's contributions to safe, clean water also extend to global needs through Canadian expertise in science, governance models and capacity building, which are vital to assisting other countries to protect their water from source to tap.  INAC, Health Canada and Environment Canada will continue to work closely with First Nations towards implementing the First Nations Water Management

Strategy and improving the quality of water on reserve.

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May 14, 2003

KIDAL, Northeast Mali, May 14 (IPS) - ”Taking bath, which most people always take for granted, has become a luxury here,'' says Ahmouden Ag Ikmass, deputy mayor of Kidal, referring to the acute water shortage in the region. ”We don't have the luxury of taking bath every day,'' says Aicha Wallet, a resident of Kidal, a town some 1,585 kilometres northeast of Bamako, the capital of Mali.  ”To save water, we use less than two litres of water for bathing,” she says. ''We don't have any choice as we prefer to avoid the long queues and the fistfights that always erupt at the water pumps.”

Lack of water, says Ikmass, ''has created insecurity in our streets and homes and around the few spots where water is available. Lately, a number of people have been hurt in scuffles over a few litres of water and have been referred to clinic for treatment''.  A tour of the city confirms Ikmass's fears. Long queues of individuals, assembling around the few water points all day, have made the city to acquire the nickname ''The Three Bs'': barrels, bottles and buckets.

Captain Issa Coulibaly, commander of the city's gendarmerie force, says fighting often breaks out when someone gets too smart and thinks he can jump the queue. Others like Fanta Kane Maiga often pay the price for being patience. Maiga, a teacher, says: ''Yesterday evening, my daughter gave birth. Since 5 O'clock in the morning, I've been waiting at this pump and haven't been able to get a single bucket of water with which to wash her linens. It's a real shame,'' she says.  Kidal, which is also known as Adrar des Iforas, is too rocky for agriculture, and too arid for rain. Kidal has a population of 77,000, mostly nomads, who eke out a living on the region's 260,000-sq-km rough terrain.

''We have always been living with the fear of a permanent water shortage. The scarcity of water always keeps us thirsty, kills us sometimes, ruins our plans, destroys our environment and depopulates our region,” says Ikmass.  During the hot season, the temperature, sometimes, climbs over 50 degrees centigrade.  To alleviate the water scarcity, the Minister of Mines, Energy and Water Resources, Ahmed Diane Semega, launched a new project on Apr. 17, by, ceremonially, swinging the pickaxe into the ground to bring potable water to Kidal.

Egleze Ag Foni, the region's top administrator, says 35 percent of Kidal's water points are non-functional. ''More than 117 villages out of 200 do not have access to clean running water,'' he says. The villagers depend on dilapidated wells, most of which have collapsed, he adds. ''We are very short of water for our agricultural needs. With droughts, the list of wells that have dried up is also getting longer and longer,'' he says. Resourceful families fulfil their daily needs on less than 20 litres of water. A 20-litre tank, which costs 10 CFA (about 1.6 U.S. cents) at the pump, can be resold for between 100 and 500 CFA (between 16 and 83 U.S. cents) to city dwellers, says a water vendor in Kidal.

''Such suffering will soon be a thing of the past once the water project, which we're working on, is completed,'' said Semega, when he visited the city last month. The project will provide the city with potable water, via a 500,000-litre reservoir of pumping station. It will cost 1.5 billion CFA (about 2.5 million U.S. dollars). Eighty percent of it will be financed by the Khartoum-based Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA), while the Malian government will pick up the remaining 20 percent. Mali, with a population of 10 million, covers 1,240 million square kilometres of land, most of them desert. Mali is one of the poorest countries on earth, with 65 percent of the population living on less than one U.S. dollar a day.

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May 14, 2003

On 21-23 May, EU environment ministers will meet their Eastern counterparts in Kiev (Ukraine) to discuss further cooperation on environment. The water issue will be given a high priority.

European Environment Ministers of the countries members of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UN ECE) are expected to meet in Kiev on 21-23 May 2003. The Kiev Conference will be the fifth in a series of regional conferences where Environment Ministers and policy makers discuss ways of strengthening cooperation to protect and improve the environment.  In one year, several New Independant States (NIS) of the former Soviet Union will become the new EU neighbours. Pollution management and transboundary pollution management in particular is therefore of the utmost importance for the EU. In its conclusions for the conference, the Environment Council stressed that the Kiev meeting is the opportunity to agree on the priorities and objectives of environmental co-operation in the wider European region over the next few years.

Water will be the priority issue defended by the EU during the Kiev Ministerial. The Commission is expected to sign a "Water initiative" with the NIS. This initiative foresees the setting up of water management systems based on river basins (a model already in place in the EU Member States) and tripartite partnerships between public authorities, business and civil society to ensure adequate supply of water and sanitary installations in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Tackling these issues is important to address the poor quality of water and decide how best to share the limited available water resources both among countries and among sectors, such as agriculture or industry.

During the conference, the environment ministers are expected to sign three new protocols:

  • The Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers to the Aarhus Convention: this Protocol will require polluting companies to provide information on their releases of polluting substances, such as greenhouse gases, dioxins and heavy metals, to a national register that is accessible and searchable through the Internet.

  • The Protocol on Strategic Environmental Assessment to the Espoo Convention: this Protocol will require environmental and public health considerations to be systematically taken into account when plans and programmes, for instance in agriculture, industry of transport, are drawn up.

  • The Protocol on Civil Liability and Compensation for Damage Caused by the Transboundary Effects of Industrial Accidents on Transboundary Waters to the Helsinki Conventions: this Protocol will ensure that if an industrial accident pollutes international rivers or lakes, its victims, such as fishermen or drinking water plants downstream, will receive compensation.

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May 13, 2003

Osborne Park, Australia - May 13, 2003 [] Solar Energy Systems Ltd (SES) secured funding for a feasibility and pilot study to investigate the opportunity of selling solar powered water services to island communities and resorts in the Maldives. The terms of the AUD$120,000 (US$79,000) pre-commercial funding package, which has been provided by the Dutch Solar Investment Fund through Triodos International Fund Management, will allow SES to begin pilot testing of the building and operating of mini-utilities to sell potable water on islands through its Solarflow water purification system.

"The Maldives represent a perfect market for the Solarflow as the communities are generally small, the cost of alternative supply is high, and the underground water lens (aquifer) generally present beneath islands represents a suitable water source," said SES Managing Director, Anthony Maslin.  The Maldives comprise 87 resort islands and 198 government funded community inhabited islands. Water supply is an ongoing problem for these islands with 98 percent of freshwater being drawn from contaminated water lenses beneath the islands, and resorts importing bottled water at a cost of approximately $AUD1.00 (US$.64) per liter. "By establishing a decentralized water infrastructure business, SES can profitably deliver a water service for a fraction of this cost, simultaneously delivering significant benefits to these communities," Maslin said.

To be provided in the form of a loan and grant, the funding will be used to finance the installation of two Solarflow Water purification systems and support preparatory work and business planning. In addition, funding will assist in the formation of a joint venture between SES and its local Maldives partner - Water, Energy Biodiversity Foundation (WEB). "New business models in new geographic markets are high risk for any company," Maslin said. "We have been lucky to find a financier that understands the potential benefits to communities in developing countries if this model is successful, and has agreed to share much of the risk at this pre-commercial phase. Without such support it is unlikely that we would be able to pursue this strategy at this stage of SES' development." SES will present a paper relating to the Maldives Feasibility Study at the Renewable Energy Solutions for Island Tourism and Water Conference in Crete this month, organized by the European Renewable Energy Council and supported by the European Commission. Between two and three hundred delegates are expected to attend the conference in late May.

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May 13, 2003

Nairobi, Kenya - WWF today called for a broader approach to water management in Kenya. WWF urged the government to look beyond dams and promote better management of existing water resources in order to break out of the recurrent cycle of floods, drought, and famine.  Said Dr Sam Kanyamibwa, WWF's Representative for Eastern Africa: "The traditional focus on infrastructure development projects is not the only strategy that should be looked at. Emphasis must switch to better management of existing water supplies by promoting more efficient use."

WWF called for the adoption of a consultative and integrated approach to water resource management. Such an approach should take into consideration the needs and aspirations of diverse stakeholders. Integrated water resource management promises the best means of achieving social, economic, and environmental goals. Kenya's minister for Water Resources Management and Development, Ms Martha Karua told stakeholders that water management in the country has suffered perennial non-prioritization and budgetary starvation. "For many years, the water sector has been starved of funds, having been relegated to the periphery in financial allocation and prioritization," Ms Karua said. "This has had negative impacts on investment in catchment management, construction of reservoirs, management of natural disasters, appropriate technology and increased accessibility to water supply and basic sanitation."

Ms Karua said her ministry had, as result, been pre-occupied with maintaining the existing network just to ensure supply services were running. Kenya's water supply network has not kept up with an exponential growth in demand, its coverage standing at 75 per cent in urban areas and 46 per cent in rural areas. She urged stakeholders attending a two-day workshop funded by WWF, the World Bank, Sida, GTZ, and others for clear consensus and mandate to elevate the management of water resources to a national priority.

"The goverment must treat water as the engine for economic growth and give it its rightful place in the country's development plans," Ms Karua said. "The preparation of the Economic Recovery Strategy will be incomplete without delivering water security."

Ms Karua said water resource management is central to the development of Kenya. Without it, there was no need to invest in supply infrastructure because there will be no water to deliver. Without water, other primary sectors of the economy such as agriculture, health and industry would ground to a halt. Stakeholders expressed their desire to see a coherent harmonised structural framework for water resources management in Kenya, implementation of well-intentioned policies and law enforcement.

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New York Times
May 12, 2003

ASRA, Iraq, May 12 — As sewage continues to spill into the streets of this city, Iraq's second largest, and the local population is increasingly relying on water from fetid canals, the World Health Organization warned today that Basra was poised for an epidemic of cholera. At least 55 suspected cases have been reported in Basra in recent days, and Dr. Denis Coulombier, an official of the health agency here, estimated that several hundred more cases had yet to be diagnosed. There have been no deaths.  "Given the health and sanitation conditions, it could spread very fast," Dr. Coulombier said. "I believe what we are seeing is the tip of the iceberg."

Dr. Claire-Lise Chaignat, who directs the World Health Organization cholera program in Geneva, said that "once cholera starts to burst, then it is very difficult to contain." Until an effective community water supply can be set up, health workers are trying to teach residents to chlorinate or boil their water. Cholera, which kills about 120,000 people worldwide each year, is caused by a bacterium that produces a toxin that typically leads to severe diarrhea. Death comes from dehydration. The germ is often spread by fecal contamination of water supplies. The disease has been endemic in Basra and most other areas of Iraq since the 1980's.

A major outbreak occurred in the Basra region in 1991 after the first Persian Gulf war. At that time the power was knocked out, incapacitating the water treatment plants that provided a relatively safe system.

Half a million tons of raw sewage flowed into the rivers daily, according to the United Nations. Now the major problem is security. Hospitals are understaffed because some people are afraid to come to work, while others are not being paid. Because so much equipment was looted, hospital workers are largely relying on what aid agencies are bringing in, which is not yet sufficient to deal with an epidemic. British military officials, responsible for establishing order here, have not been guarding the hospitals, citing limited manpower and the danger of becoming stuck in fixed guard positions.

Lack of security is also preventing health experts from going to places considered most at risk to educate residents and monitor the spread of disease. Representatives of aid and health organizations said they were concerned that health workers would not be able to do their jobs properly to contain the current outbreak.

"So we have to be alert" to watch for new cases and a number of other factors like an influx of population and further disruption of the water system, Dr. Chaignat said, adding, "Anything can happen in this type of situation." British military officials, who met with United Nations organizations and aid workers today, said they were aware of the problem and were trying to work with medical experts."At the moment, the security of the hospitals is being discussed at the highest levels," the medical liaison officer for the British Army said.

He added that criminals had come to realize that hospitals are a rich target and officials have recognized that they need to confront the problem. Beginning Saturday, the British will hire 1,000 people to guard fixed locations, working with the local police force of more than 700. "It's almost a foregone conclusion that we were going to have a situation of this sort, given the problem with water and sanitation," the liaison officer said.  Doctors at hospitals here say they have supplies to deal with the current cholera outbreak but will not have the fluid and drugs needed to cope with a larger outbreak. Death can be prevented if a victim is treated early with large amounts of fluids and electrolytes, which can be given by using oral rehydration kits. In severe cases, fluids must be injected intravenously. Working conditions in the hospitals remain bleak. Some doctors refuse to return to work because of security concerns. Those who have come back have been paid only once since the war began, according to several reports, and then only $100. Some staff members were paid in 10,000 Iraqi-dinar notes, which merchants will not take because looters stripped the local bank of the bills.

The hospitals have generators, but when the power goes out, which it does for hours nearly every day, the elevators do not work properly and the lighting is dim.Until security improves, the situation in the hospitals is not likely to improve, aid workers said. Local hospitals have the ability to perform diagnostic tests for cholera. But looting and lack of security have restricted testing in the outbreak. Last week, stool samples from 17 suspected cases were sent from Basra to Kuwait for confirmation. But they arrived in such poor condition that the diagnoses could not be confirmed, said Dr. Chaignat of the World Health Organization.

Since then, doctors in Basra have sent specimens from an additional 38 suspected cases to Kuwait; results are expected on Tuesday. "Cholera has not been diagnosed officially, but we are acting as if it was cholera because we cannot wait for the confirmation," Dr. Chaignat said. Aid workers said it was still hard to visit certain communities, especially the poorer sections of the city, where the smell of rotting sewage is overpowering at times. There, military officials said, people are tapping into the water system, creating a risk of contamination to the whole water supply for the city. Unicef, the United Nations Children's Fund, said the sewage system in the city was in a "deplorable state."

See Also:

Serious sanitation problems persist in Baghdad, IRIN, May 6, 2003,

Raw sewage threatening health and livelihoods, IRIN, May 12, 2003

Alleviating Poverty in the Midst of Conflict, World Bank, May 16, 2003,,contentMDK:20112008~menuPK:34457~pagePK:

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Daily Trust (Abuja)
May 13, 2003

At least 1.2 billion people do not have access to safe drinking water, out of a world population of six billion people, according to UN Development Programme. A report compiled by 'CHOICES', a UNDP quarterly magazine, focusing on water situation in developing countries, states that more than 2.4 billion people lack proper sanitation facilities. According to the report, more than 2.2 million people, primarily in developing countries, die each year from diseases caused by polluted water and filthy sanitary conditions. "Everyday, diarrhoeal diseases cause some 6,000 deaths, mostly among children under five. Also, more than 200 tonnes of human waste are dumped daily into the world's rivers, the report notes.

It states that while water covers 70 per cent of the earth's surface, 97.5 per cent is salt water, the remaining water is fresh, while three quarters of that is frozen in ice caps. "By the year 2025, nearly two-thirds of the world's population will live in water stressed regions, while in the next two decades, water used by humans will increase by 40 per cent and 17 per cent more water will be needed to feed increasing populations in developing countries," it says. The report also notes that in the last 30 years, the share of rural families with access to safe water rose from 10 per cent to about 60 per cent."At present, 70 per cent of all available fresh water is used for agriculture, but because of inefficient irrigation systems, 60 per cent of this water is lost," the report stated.

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May 12, 2003

Ali Sakran was trying to find a dry spot to place his chair in, away from the contaminated water seeping through the entrance of his house. His wife was holding her daughter, who feels sick because of the water, like many other children in the neighbourhood. "This water makes us feel sick, it affects our drinking water, our washing and, most importantly, our health," she said. "The children cannot go out to play because of the insects that infest the nearby sewage, and they get rashes and skin diseases. And more than that, the garbage collectors and supply carts, which bring basic supplies to the people, do not come because they use carts that can't go through this filthy and disgusting water easily."

Spokesman for the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Geoffrey Keele, said the problems with water treatment were of enormous concern. He added it had to be remembered that the country had undergone three wars in 13 years and much of its sanitation infrastructure was completely decayed. As an example, he said the al-Widha water treatment plant in Baghdad would have to be totally repaired because it had had suffered a complete failure. The estimated cost of this was US$150,000, Keele said. On top of damage caused by the war, looting had been devastating for many water treatment and sewage plants, he said.

The story is the same throughout much of the older parts of Baghdad, such as in Al-Hurriyah, where liquid raw sewage invades the streets and sometimes the houses, making life unbearable. Although most of these districts have an antiquated sewage system, before the war municipal trucks would arrive every week to unblock the system and the rusty pipes. But this system has now broken down, leaving domestic plumbers as the last line of defence against the encroaching sewage. One of them, Samir Hamid, said: "I never worked for the government, so I only use the same plumbing materials I use when I'm fixing smaller residential homes, I charge 1,500 to 2,000 dinars [US $1] from every household and fix the sewage pipes, but then they start breaking and blocking again in few days' time. People know that it is a temporary solution, but there's nothing else that can be done to resolve the situation."

Ahmad Ali, who works in a bakery on one of the most badly affected streets said: "People are not coming to buy bread any more. They [customers] cannot pass easily to come here, and also they are worried that the bread is spoiled." Many street vendors are also threatened by the sewage, especially those selling food, water and ice, as there is no refrigeration equipment to keep the food from spoiling. In Baghdad, UNICEF has reported that looting has rendered the important al-Rustumiya water treatment plant largely useless. Repairs that had been done had been destroyed and replacement equipment looted by armed gangs. This meant that waste water produced by around 3 million people, 60 percent of Baghdad's population, was now being pumped untreated into the Tigris River which also served as a water source for populations further south. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has also reported that Baghdad's Abu Nawas water pumping station was continuing to be attacked by looters.

Repair work had started but by the next morning, looters had not only stolen equipment but also destroyed what remained. Keele said ensuring security was critical if aid organisations were going to be able to help repair the devastated sanitation infrastructure. "If there is no security all of this will be relooted and all of this will be a waste of money and a waste of time," he said. Even before the war, 500,000 mt of raw sewage was being dumped into fresh water sources every day in Iraq, Keele said, including 300,000 mt around Baghdad.

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News of Norway
May 12, 2003

The United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) today elected Mr. Børge Brende, Minister of the Environment of Norway, as Chairman for the Commission. The CSD has a leading role within the United Nations in monitoring and ensuring the implementation of the targets from last years World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg.  "Our challenge now is to translate words into action, and to take concrete initiatives in order to deliver on our commitments from Johannesburg," Mr. Brende said.   "The international community must show tangible results in areas that are crucial in the fight against poverty and environmental degradation. Only through concrete action, can the United Nations gain a renewed and strengthened trust. I will do my utmost to contribute in this matter."

The Commission on Sustainable Development was created by the United Nations' 47th General Assembly in 1992, to monitor and report on implementation of Agenda 21, adopted at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Commission has put a number of environmental issues high on the international agenda – i.e. patterns of sustainable production and consumption, transboundary pollution of the marine environment, and forest-related issues.   

One of the main topics for the Commission's work in the next two years will be water and sanitation. The United Nations has estimated that approximately two million people die every year due to water-related illnesses. The UN has also indicated that two billion people will be affected by water scarcity before the midst of this millennium, unless substantive efforts are initiated. "Increasing the access to freshwater and sanitation services, as well as developing environmentally sound systems of water resources management may be the two most important initiatives in order to improve living conditions for the poor, and to achieve sustainable development," Mr. Brende said.    "These are also areas where we can achieve substantional results in the short term, provided that we make the necessary resources available, and are able to lay the ground for sustainable development through systems of good governance. The United Nations must take a leading role at international level, and must coordinate efforts in an efficient manner if we are to succeed," Mr. Brende said.

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Kuensel Online (Bhutan)
May 12, 2003

Trashigang town is solving one of its biggest problems. DANIDA has agreed to fund Nu 20 million for a water supply project that will provide clean and safe drinking water to the residents of the largest urban centre in interior eastern Bhutan.  Last week, officials of the department of urban development and housing (DUDH) visited the town to identify a water source. The dzongkhag engineering cell is carrying out the ground survey and the actual work on the project will begin in July this year. The project will be carried out in phases with the reservoirs and pipelines done in the first phase. The second phase will cover household distribution. The project ends in December 2004.

Besides the district hospital, a middle secondary school and branch offices of corporations and private organisations, Trashigang town has about 375 households, including Merphey village which recently came under the new municipal boundary.  The existing supply from the Mithi chhu, located a few kilometres uphill of the town, was built in the 70s and has been the drinking source for the entire town. While the supply has been regular, water hygiene has been an issue.  In summer it gets worse. With the source tapped directly from a stream without a proper filter and treatment basin, water flowing through the tap is muddy.

According to the district health supervisory officer (DHSO), a team of specialists from the hospital inspected the water supply and notified the town municipality to treat the supply weekly. But there has been no instances of mass outbreak of water borne disease such as typhoid, diarrhea and dysentery according to the DHSO.  The district engineering cell is also worried about a landslide that is inching closer to the existing source tank.  Tshewang Phuntsho, a resident of Trashigang town, says that the present supply is more clean than it used to be some 15 years ago. “Then, we were consuming water contaminated by household waste and sewerage of Rangshikhar village (which is directly above Trashigang town),” said Tshewang Phuntsho.

He told Kuensel that the streams flowing from the village and tapped as a source were usually contaminated with waste.  Trashigang dzongda, Dasho Sherab Tenzin said that, the new water supply project will fulfill an important need for Trashigang town which serves as a centre in the eastern districts. “We don’t have clean drinking water. We are indeed solving a major problem here,” he said. “The existing supply has no proper filtration tank and the network of pipes is old, rusted, and leaking.”

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Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique (Maputo)
May 12, 2003

The Mozambican Ministry of Public Works and Housing is drafting a national integrated sanitation strategy, in order to help reduce the incidence of diseases associated with inadequate water supply and poor sanitation practices. With this end in mind, Public Works Minister Roberto White on Monday opened a National Meeting on Sanitation in Maputo, at which he argued that major public health problems of developing countries can be solved through the correct management of water, sanitation and hygiene. "One of the challenges of this meeting is to recognise, in our territory, and in our social, cultural and economic spaces, the most profound links between water, sanitation and hygiene, and from this draw up a national integrated strategy", White said.

The first strategic step, he added, would be to ensure coordination and harmonisation between the various public and private institutions involved in these areas. He stressed that powers in the sphere of sanitation should be further decentralised, and that the technological solutions used must be in line with the socio-economic and cultural environment of the target population. Recognising the importance of children in transmitting knowledge acquired at school on to the other members of their families, White said there should be a joint programme with the Education Ministry, so as to include hygiene education in the teacher training curriculum. White stressed that Mozambique's sanitation problems are not due merely to a lack of infrastructures. "We have valuable infrastructures that are not maintained", he said. "We have problems of the way in which land is occupied, which not only cause sanitation problems, but lead to erosion and flooding". The Minister stressed the need to correct both individual and collective behaviour, in order to protect the environment and safeguard public health.

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May 12, 2003

The National Coalition Against Privatisation ofWater and the Centre for Public Interest Law (CEPIL), on Monday called on government to mobilize funds to revamp the Ghana Water Company (GWC) for an efficient service delivery. This, it said, would rather help than to leave it in the hands of private investors to the detriment of the ordinary man. The Coalition said this at a three-day conference to find ways of strengthening the network and involve more people in the fight against privatisation of water.

It noted that privatisation did not necessarily mean efficiency, adding that the idea was being mooted out to serve the selfish interests of some few people. The conference under the theme "Securing The Right to Essential Services in Africa", brought together about 60 participants from 13 countries including Ghana, Nicaragua, Burkina Faso, Uganda, Bolivia, South Africa, Brazil and Canada. The conference would call attention to the government's plan in July 2003, calling for bids from four pre-qualified multinational water companies to lease Ghana's urban water system. Mr. Al-Hassan Adam, an executive member of the Coalition said the hypocrisy surrounding the plan in the name of efficiency and affordability could not be overemphasised since people were rather going to make profit adding "the time to get them out is now."

He said international donors and lenders were backing a corporate take-over of services including provision of water, health care, energy and education by creating new aid programmes that directly promote either privatisation of resources and services or some other means of privatisation such as public private partnership. Mr. Adam said the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) preached good governance and participatory democracy whilst in another breath were leading a campaign to privatise services in Africa that stroked at the heart of the democratic process.

"African leaders are responding to pressure from powerful governments seeking to expand overseas markets" forgetting that when they were "locked-in" these processes could be irreversible. Mr. Adam said the governments must consider whether public private partnership could serve the public interest or whether in their desperation to reduce their debt and obtain finance, they were relinquishing control over the resources and services most essential for health, livelihood and dignity. He said Ghana must take a cue from the Ghana Telecom saga where the Malaysians messed everything and later had to leave a huge debt for the country to pay.

Mr. Adam said already about 450 million people in 29 countries face serious water shortages affecting both the wealthiest and poorest nations whose expanding economies and populations were chasing fewer sources of fresh water. He said more than one billion people lack access to clean and affordable water and approximately 2.4 billion people lack access to proper sanitation services while over two million people, mostly children, die annually from diarrhoea related diseases to lack of access to clean water. "In Ghana, formal statistics cite access to treated water as available to 62 to 70 percent in urban areas and 35 to 40 percent in rural areas. However, in urban areas, only 40 percent of the population have water taps that flows. Seventy eight percent of the poor in urban areas do not have pipe-borne water, he said.

Ms. Wenonah Hauter, Director of Public Citizen's Critical Mass Energy and Environment Programme (PCCMEEP), said the privatisation of water in countries like Buenos Aires and South Africa had resulted in public health crisis and social turmoil among other things. She said the claim by the World Bank to let one billion people get water through privatisation was unfounded, adding that it was just a bunch of European and American contractors that were going to benefit. Ms. Hauter said statistics showed that investment in water from the public sector had been declining since 1990 with government paying 65 to 90 percent with five percent from the private sector, and asked how the private sector with its five per cent improve water supply".

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Business Times (Dar es Salaam)
May 9, 2003

The Government of Tanzania abandoned its policy of free water supplies to the public in 1990, an official of the ministry of water and livestock development has said. The official, Ponna Buja Hokororo, is a senior water technician data base officer from Dar es Salaam. Briefing Business Times in Tabora, Hokororo revealed that water experts from the ministry were assigned to go upcountry during the Water Week to oversee relevant activities in the regions. Their tasks included propounding on this year's key message of conserving water sources for future generations. They were also required to ensure that beneficiaries participated fully in planning, constructing, maintaining and managing water resources.

Hokororo said the new Government water policy, which has been in place since 2000, is to mobilise people to fully participate in planning, constructing, operating, maintaining and managing water services and sources. This is evident in the way the ministry, through its representatives, emphasised three key messages: water supply sustainability, conservation of water sources and keeping a water data bank. She said the Government and the a non-government organisations, German Technical Cooperation (GTZ), have jointly launched a rural water scheme data bank. This will ensure correct, timely data and information for design, construction and operation of different water projects. Hokororo said data keeping regarding water development projects in villages, wards, districts, regions and elsewhere is vital to maintain proper records.

From her experience, most water projects are either constructed by water committees, NGOs, water-use associations, trusts, communal water authorities or national projects. She further said that, apart from stressing the sustainability of water provision, conservation of water sources and water data bank, this year's Water Week celebrations emphasised the establishment of water funds in rural areas.

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This Day (Lagos)
May 9, 2003

President Olusegun Obasanjo has reiterared the committment of the government at ensuring access to clean water supply and adequate sanitation of all Nigerians. The president was speaking before he commissioned the pipe-manu-facturing factory of the Gurara Water Transfer Project at Ushafa, Bwari local Government, Federal Capital Territory. He said the project would facilitate water supply delivery to Abuja and open a water range of farming and agro-allied activities that would benefit the people of Kaduna and Niger states.

Apart from increased food production and additional employment opportunities, about 30 megawatts of  electricity would be generated and fed into the national grid from the project, he added. President Obasanjo advised the Ajaokuta steel company to explore a working partnership with the Gurara pipe-manufacturing factory for steel sheets, since the company would fabricate pipes to meet the diverse demand of steel pipe in the West-african subregion.

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May 9, 2003

NAIROBI, 9 May 2003 (IRIN) - The Kenyan government has said the current floods in the country are not just due to the ongoing heavy rainfall, but to degraded water catchments. The government and the UN held a meeting on Thursday to discuss ways of coping with the devastating floods that have hit the country, particularly in the west.  According to a UN briefing paper, the Meteorological Department has described the current rains as "normal or slightly above normal", but says the degraded water catchments can no longer handle even normal rainfall.

In this regard, the government stressed the need to rehabilitate dykes and dams, as well as the water catchment areas, including reforestation using community participation.  Over 40 people have been killed and tens of thousands displaced by the floods.  In a statement, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said it had been asked by the government to coordinate the delivery of non-food assistance to the victims. The IFRC said it had already mobilised hundreds of trained volunteers from the Kenya Red Cross Society to help deliver humanitarian assistance and step up ongoing malaria prevention activities.

The organisation said it had also launched an emergency appeal for US $610,000 to help some 60,000 people most affected by the floods for an initial period of two months. “This is just the beginning of the rainy season, so we should be prepared for a deterioration in the situation," said Mary Kuria of the Kenya Red Cross. "More destruction will also increase the number of victims and we should be prepared to revise this appeal upwards.”

See Also:

Kenya declares national emergency in flood crisis, Africa Online, May 8, 2003,,3,52935.jsp

Storms, Floods across Africa Claim Many Lives, ENS, May 16, 2003

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Catholic Information Service for Africa (Nairobi)
May 8, 2003

As the wave pushing for the privatisation of water spreads, the Church in Africa has been urged to make its stand clear on this important resource. While the provision of clean drinking water is taken for granted in many places, it is a scarce resource for most people in Africa, due to inadequate water supply, contamination of its sources or lack of sanitation systems. An adequate supply of water is an inalienable human right and a public trust to be protected and nurtured by all peoples, communities and nations. But in many places across the world, moves are underway to transform water into a commodity to be traded and sold for commercial gain. Water and sanitation services are fast being privatised, and are increasingly run on a commercial basis.

This is happening in Burkina-Faso, Gabon, South Africa, the Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, Sao-Tome, Uganda, Chad, Mali, Mozambique, Senegal, C_d'Ivoire, Angola, Benin, Guinea-Bissau and Niger. In Kenya this threat is just raring its head. The disadvantages and negative consequences of such a development are a cause for grave concern. These include a tendency to favour the rich at the expense of the poor, the use of expensive technical solutions rather than cheaper local alternatives, long term damaging effects on the community and on sustainable resources. The Church in Africa needs to take a stand concerning this spreading trend to privatise water distribution and basic sanitation services in Africa.

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UN Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)
May 8, 2003

A UN humanitarian assessment mission to the northern province of Ouham, in the Central African Republic, found that water facilities had been seriously damaged during six-months of fighting, Diego Zorilla, who headed the 2-6 May mission, told IRIN on Wednesday. "The most urgent needs are in water facilities and sanitation," Zorilla, head of the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) bureau in CAR, said. The mission, he said, found that just six of the 20 wells UNICEF had dug in Bossangoa, 305 km north of Bangui, the capital, were still in a good state. In addition, he said that equipment belonging to the state water utility, the Societe des Eaux de Centrafrique, had been looted; rendering the company unable to provide safe drinking water.

"Many of those materials as well as those looted from hospitals are being sold in local markets," he said. "We held meetings with chiefs of neighbourhoods to urge them to convince the population to return those materials." Private and public buildings were vandalised, looted or destroyed during the rebellion. "No social, health or administrative infrastructure is working in Ouham Province," he said. Only a few health centres were able to deal with emergencies, he added, because of the support from the Spanish medical charity, Medicos Sin Fronteras. The NGO is due to close its emergency programmes in the province later in May.

Zorilla said UNICEF feared there would be epidemics, as vaccine refrigeration equipment had been looted and because there had been no immunisation campaign in the area since 2002. "There were 35 immunisation centres [in Ouham] but none of them is operational today," he said. With a population of 325,000 and in the northwest of the country, Ouham was the province worst affected by the rebellion from October 2002 to March 2003 that pitted forces of the nation's present leader, Francois Bozize, and those of former President Ange-Felix Patasse. Bozize, a native of Bossangoa, toppled Patasse in a coup on 15 March. Schools in the province are still closed because students and teachers who had fled the fighting have still not returned. However, Zorilla said UNICEF and the Ministry of Education were considering how best to transport the teachers back to their respective posts "to rescue the school year".

He said the UN had urged the government to send the newly appointed governors to their posts and provide them with adequate logistic means to reassure the population, most of who have returned to their homes, and restore security. The mission to the north, composed of officials from the UN World Food Programme and the UN Food and Agriculture Fund, was the first there since October 2002. Their inspection came just a week after the UN system in the country appeal for US $9.1 million for 2.2 million war-victims. Meantime, UNICEF has started distributing drugs to six provinces in the east. In April, UNICEF received drugs and medical equipment worth US $550,000 that are to benefit 890,000 people in the east for three months. During the six-month rebellion, the east was completely cut off from its supply routes. The same operation is to be carried out by Cooperazione Internationale in the north.

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May 8, 2003

ISLAMABAD, May 8: We will have to adopt modern technologies and invest more in human resources if we want to develop and prosper as a nation, said Dr Mutawakil Qazi, Secretary Planning and Development.

He was speaking at the concluding ceremony of a three-day workshop on "Integrating Environmental Consideration into Economic Policy Making" organized by the Planning Development Division and Unescap here.

Mr Qazi deplored that despite the availability of hundreds of foreign qualified specialists and experts in different fields, the country could not give its children a better future. On the contrary, he said, two third world countries like Singapore and Korea entered into the first world during the same period because they had invested more in human talent. "This reflects something wrong with our policies and the way we think, he said and added, "Unless we change, we can't give a better life to our future generation."

He said Pakistan was dependent on international donations to the tune of $2 to 4 billion annually when it could generate this much amount by conserving its water resources and electricity. He said a huge amount of water and electricity was wasted in big cities annually, which had no parallel in any part of the world. Mutwakil said by taking two to three measures we could bring to end our dependence on donors. Conserving water can save $2 billion every year and conserving energy can save another $1.5 billion, he added.

He deplored that tens of thousands of dollars were being spent to study poverty in a bid to end poverty when the same could be diverted towards eradicating poverty. Onder Yucer, Resident Representative of UNDP in Pakistan, said the United Nations had been stressing the need for incorporating environmental consideration into the economic policy making process since the debate on sustainable development was initiated three decades back.  "It is evident now that environmental improvement is not a luxury that can wait until growth has alleviated income poverty, nor it can be assumed that growth itself can take care of environmental protection," he said.  Yucer said the global community agreed at WSSD that eradicating poverty was indispensable for sustainable development in developing countries and it required concerted and concrete measures at all levels.

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May 8, 2003

NEW DELHI, May 8 (OneWorld) - As a blistering summer descends on India, experts warn the Met department's forecast of 60 percent chances of a below average rainfall this year, may trigger a major water shortage in the south Asian nation.  After last year's drought, said to be one of the worst in 100 years, environmentalists are worried about India's dwindling water resources, which the government has done precious little to conserve.  "It is quite apparent that another drought will lead to an impending water crisis in the country," says Devinder Sharma, the chairperson of the New Delhi-based Forum for Bio-Technology and Food Security. "Already, 41,000 villages in (the western Indian state of) Rajasthan have been declared drought-hit by the state administration," he says.

For Rajasthan, it will be the fourth successive year of drought. While the ongoing water shortage is a global phenomenon, with the world's water consumption rising more than twice as fast as its population , experts stress that countries such as India are using their ground-water reserves at an unsustainable rate.

Low rainfall coupled with increasing consumption and inadequate means of harvesting water is making water more and more scarce in many parts of India.  "A major fresh water crisis is gradually unfolding in India," predicts the United Nations Children's Fund in a report. "The crisis is the lack of access to safe water supply to millions of people as a result of inadequate water management and environmental degradation."  The Energy Research Institute, a New Delhi think tank, says that already in an agriculture-based state such as Punjab in the north, 98 percent of ground water has been exploited. Sharma adds that if the trend continues, the once fertile Punjab - once known as the country's granary - will turn into a desert.

In a recent study of 27 Asian cities with populations of over 1,000,000, the World Bank says that two Indian cities -- New Delhi in the north and Chennai in the south - are the worst performing centers in terms of hours of water availability per day. Mumbai, a western Indian city, is the second worst performer and Calcutta, the fourth.  Experts believe the only way India can tackle its water problem is by chalking out concrete policies for water management. "The very fact that year after year, we talk about an impending drought at the start of the summer indicates that the government has no real water policy," says Manoj Nadkarni, an expert on river water pollution at the New Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment.

Nadkarni stresses that a drought or low rainfall should not be an issue of concern to policy-makers. What is important, CSE has been emphasizing, is the need to harvest rainwater. Nadkarni points out that 75-80 percent of water available in India is wasted.  "We don't make our own water resources," he says. "What is needed is an integrated approach towards water - which involves harvesting rain water, keeping our rivers clean and so on," says Nadkarni.  Unless the Indian government gears up to meet its water problems with a long-term strategy, experts fear the crisis will only worsen. "The nation refuses to accept the crises that a drought throws up," says Sharma. "For most people, a drought is an event that is forgotten the moment Delhi gets its first rains."

Sharma suggests the government examines crop patterns to stave off the crisis. He points out that a crop such as sugar-cane, grown widely in the western state of Maharashtra, consumes 99 percent of the ground water for irrigation. "Sugar-cane constitutes one-third of all crops in Maharashtra. The remaining two-thirds have to make do with one percent of ground water," he says.  He feels the traditional Indian system of water management sheds to store water should be revived. Villagers have succeeded in saving water in man-made tanks in Alwar in Rajasthan in recent years, turning the once-arid region fertile.  EXperts also stress the need for a more equitable distribution of water. Sharma points out that there are 14 golf courses in and around Delhi, each of which consumes the same amount of water that 18,000 houses require. "The poor in India are subsidizing the rich," adds Nadkarni.  Sharma believes that unless the government takes pro-active measures to improve the water situation, crops will be affected, leading to a food security problem. "If the nation does not look out now, there will be a huge problem in the days to come," he warns.

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Miami Herald
May 8, 2003

PORT-AU-PRINCE -- At daybreak a trickle begins, and then a stream of people head down from the hills around Haiti's capital in search of clean water. Gina Baptiste grabs her son Dano, two neighborhood kids and 10 empty one-gallon vegetable oil jugs. Together they walk for two hours to reach the neighborhood of Tete de L'Eau, or literally the fountainhead, to fill up at a government-run pump. ''There is a river near my house, but the water is salty,'' Baptiste said. ``It gave me stomach pains when I drank it, so I stopped. Some people still drink it.''

In Haiti, where just a fifth of the households have running water -- a small percentage even for developing countries -- getting clean water is a daily struggle. It's also increasingly costly. With Haiti's economy shrinking -- the national currency has plummeted and gas prices keep rising -- a human necessity is taking a bigger chunk out of families' small budgets. The situation recently earned the country of eight million a dire distinction: in a newly released water-poverty index of 147 countries, Haiti ranked last. British researchers developed the study to examine water access and environmental and living conditions.

Even drought-stricken Ethiopia edged out the Caribbean nation, according to the findings of the Center for Ecology and Hydrology in Wallingford, England. The Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola, ranked significantly higher at 64. Meanwhile, millions in international loans that could bring water to thousands are stuck in the pipeline -- $54 million from the Inter-American Development Bank alone -- blocked since international leaders cut off aid to Haiti after the country's flawed 2000 legislative elections.


On a recent morning, Lolo Francoise woke up in her home, only steps from the bay of Port-au-Prince. Her hair was braided tightly, clipped with white barrettes, and she said she wanted to be in her first-grade classroom. ''I like to learn,'' she said shyly. But she stayed home. ''My uniform isn't washed yet. It's dirty,'' Lolo said. Her family can't afford two gourdes -- or five cents -- to buy a pail of water to wash it, the girl explained. To Haiti's poor, the lack of clean water is not only an environmental problem, but one with grave human consequences. It can be a matter of life or death. In the United States, diarrhea is an inconvenience. In Haiti, it's one of the three leading killers of toddlers and infants, the Pan-American Health Organization says.

Typhoid fever, spread through ingesting the fecal bacteria of an infected person, also ravages the nation, said Dr. Paul Farmer, a Harvard-trained physician who founded and runs a health clinic in Haiti's Central Plateau. Though typhoid can be spread through food, it is mostly a waterborne illness in Haiti, Farmer said.

Farmer recounted the story of young Isaac Alfred, who arrived at his clinic one Thursday in February. Isaac had a raging fever and swollen belly. He appeared to be 10 years old, but actually was 15. Doctors immediately started operating and found bacteria had eaten holes in his small intestine. 'The surgeon said, `Oh God, this looks really bad,' '' Farmer said.

Isaac was appreciative for the care, thanking doctors every time they visited him. But three days later, the clinic's staff had to build a coffin for him. Since the Sunday afternoon Isaac died, two others have succumbed to typhoid at that clinic. In the countryside where Isaac lived, many Haitians get water by finding fresh springs. But the island nation's freshwater supply has been doomed by both deforestation and haphazard development, Haitian officials said. First French colonists looking for prime export wood, then peasant farmers trying to heat food and homes, plucked the Haitian hills of their trees, denuding the tropical isle so that less than 3 percent has green cover.


Now rainwater -- instead of getting trapped in a tree's roots and staying in the soil -- flushes into the ocean, leaving many lakes and rivers parched. Of 30 of Haiti's original natural reservoirs, only two remain, Haitian Environmental Minister Webster Pierre said. The remaining bodies of water are thick with silt and pollutants after rainstorms. Though Pierre says he doesn't expect Haiti to run out of water -- the majority of the nation's supply flows over in rivers from the lush Dominican Republic -- people can't get fresh water from streams and springs as they used to.

In Port-au-Prince the situation is acute. Water managers have dug deep wells on the outskirts of the city, but pirate water sellers already have pumped out so much that salt water creeps into the supply. The city has one natural mountain source, but it's now buried beneath squatters' homes and mansions -- even though the area is supposed to be set aside as a natural preserve. Sewage has seeped in, too. ''When I was a kid we would have a picnic near the wells,'' Yves-Andre Wainright, a former environmental minister under President Rene Preval, recalled of his trips to the mountains. ``Most of the wells are so contaminated now, you can use it only for washing clothes.'' Lack of planning and bad governance is how he explained the reasons for the problems.

In Peace Village, a neighborhood on the Jeremie Wharf precariously tied together by nails and tin slats, the five cisterns recently were dry for a week. A pipe broke, the government explained. So the 35,000 residents have to buy water from a neighbor with a cistern -- at six times the government's price. Marianne Jean-Baptiste, eight months' pregnant, had to cut back to three buckets a day from 10. ''It's enough -- if I don't wash,'' Jean-Baptiste said. School kids, their tiny fingers wrapped around gallon jugs, wind up the highway to communal pumps, then home. Older teens grab five-gallon buckets that once held paint, cleaning agents, or ''Red Rooster detergent,'' as Jessica Germaine's pail says. Jessica fills it and places the pail on her head. Then she starts the 20-minute journey home, with 40 pounds of water on her 16-year-old frame. The water still won't be enough for her family. So she'll start back for another round, plastic sandals squishing in the mud-filled road.

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May 7, 2003

ISLAMABAD, May 7: Pakistan is putting India on notice on the violation of Indus Waters Treaty and has said the two countries should appoint a neutral expert within 15 days to resolve the dispute over the construction of Baglihar Hydropower Project on the Chenab river in occupied Kashmir.  Water and Power Minister Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao confirmed on Wednesday that Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Jamali had approved of the summary to issue a notice to India. "The notice would be sent to India tomorrow (Thursday)," said Water and Power Secretary Riaz Ahmad Khan, adding that the two sides were bound under the 1960 treaty to meet and appoint a neutral expert within 15 days.

Asked why Pakistan was extending a hand of friendship to India when Delhi was trying to deprive Islamabad of its rights over Chenab and Jhelum waters, the minister said Pakistan, too, was initiating a project on Jhelum river in Azad Kashmir. However, he added, funds had not been arranged for the project so for. India and Pakistan are in a serious dispute for more than four years now over the 450MW Baglihar project which Islamabad believes is being constructed in violation of the treaty.  Bilateral means of resolving the issue at the level of Permanent Indus Commission have exhausted and India is going with the construction of the controversial gate-structure which could deprive Pakistan of more than 7,000 cusecs water per day.

Sources said Pakistan wanted to appoint a World Bank official as neutral expert as the bank itself was the guarantor of the treaty. The World Bank had facilitated the two sides to sign the treaty in 1960 to resolve their water disputes. The summary approved by the prime minister also assigns various responsibilities to relevant ministries and organizations. The finance ministry will arrange for the required funding of more than $1 million, the Attorney-General of Pakistan has finalized a panel of lawyers while NESPAK and Wapda are preparing technical and engineering reports. In February, the Indian Commissioner for Indus Commission refused to allow a Pakistani team to visit occupied Kashmir for physical verification of the project and insisted to continue with the gate-structure.

Pakistan was left with no other option but to invoke Article IX(2)(a) of the treaty for the appointment of a neutral expert to protect its rights. This would be first time since the treaty was inked 43 years ago that a dispute is likely to be referred to the neutral expert. The treaty brokered and guaranteed by the World Bank even survived 1965 and 1971 wars. Officials believe India is trying to complete the project by 2004 through dilly-dallying tactics to deprive Pakistan of a river that belongs to Pakistan under the treaty. Under the treaty Pakistan has exclusive rights over waters of western rivers - Jhelum, Chenab and Indus - while eastern rivers - Ravi, Beas and Sutlej - belong to India.

The article IX(2)(a) further states if the neutral expert reaches the conclusion that there is a dispute then a court of arbitration shall be set up upon agreement between the two parties to do so, or at the request of either party if that party feels that the dispute is unlikely to be resolved by negotiations or mediation, or if it feels after one month that the other party is unduly delaying negotiations.

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World Bank
May 7, 2003

May 7, 2003—Calling for a new form of environmental diplomacy, an Athens Declaration today applauded the potential of two new cooperative water programs—the Southeastern Europe Transboundary River Basin and Lake Basin Management Program and the Mediterranean Shared Aquifers Management Program.

The declaration was adopted at a conference held in Athens this week, entitled "Sustainable Development for Lasting Peace: Shared Water, Shared Future, Shared Knowledge." Organized by the Government of Greece, which holds the Presidency of the European Union, and the World Bank, the conference assembled public sector officials, civil society actors, private sector representatives, and international experts for a thematic review of opportunities and constraints related to cross-border management of river basins, lake basins, and shared aquifers.

The Athens Declaration endorsed a new form of Diplomacy for Environment and Sustainable Development to enhance cooperation on water at all levels of foreign and domestic policy, among governments, international agencies, private industries, and the full array of nongovernmental organizations.

Commenting on the two regional framework programs, Ian Johnson, Vice President for Sustainable Development at the World Bank, said "Based on the sustainable management of water resources as a means to promote responsible growth and stability, these cooperative programs represent the way forward in scaling up the positive lessons from the ongoing programs such as the Danube River Basin Program as well as the Lake Ohrid Conservation Project that borders Macedonia and Albania."

The Southeastern Europe Transboundary River Basin and Lake Basin Management Program would focus on a series of international river basins lying south of the Danube River Basin, which flow into the Adriatic, Aegean, Black, and Ionian Seas, and on a series of international lake basins in this area. The program would assist countries of the region, in cooperation with key stakeholders, to draft integrated water resources management (IWRM) and water use efficiency plans for all major river basins, and would include a range of complementary interventions in individual river and lake basins, with a coordination mechanism to allow for exchange of information and experience between activities.The Mediterranean Shared Aquifers Management Program will link ongoing programs to: facilitate broader of exchange of planning, management, and implementation experience; develop a mechanism for initiating cooperative work on additional shared aquifers on a case by case basis; and provide a means for development and dissemination of information on good practices. The program would play a valuable role in highlighting the importance of management of shared aquifers. The knowledge gained in the Mediterranean could be transferred to other regions of the world that have less experience on this critical topic.

The Athens conference carries forward the recognition made at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), held in Johannesburg during last year, that the international community needs to revisit, reorient, and enhance its efforts at all levels to promote peaceful and mutually beneficial management of shared natural resources in order to achieve the goal of sustainable development in a peaceful world. The Athens Declaration will be forwarded as a contribution to the Kyiv International Conference "One Environment for Europe", in the framework of which transboundary issues will be of key importance .

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May 6, 2003

Brussels, Belgium - Big volume water transfers worsen social, economic, and environmental problems instead of solving them. This is the result of a new WWF study, presented by WWF and the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) with its Spanish Member organization, Ecologistas in Accion, today.  The study, Tagus Segura — Lessons from the Past, examines the disastrous ecological, social, and economic consequences of the Tagus-Segura Transfer (TST) in Spain. The results come at a crucial time, when the European Commission is deciding on 7.5 billion Euro funding for the Spanish National Hydrological Plan (SNHP), which is based on the same water transfer model.

"The Tagus-Segura water transfer has created a huge burden for this and coming generations. It has increased the thirst for more and more water, while water resources are limited and continue to decrease," says Stefan Scheuer from EEB. "Instead, the EU water policy requires that water demands be managed and water transfers like the Tagus-Segura not be repeated." All these problems result in a spiral of unsustainability, and the new Ebro transfer is planned to hide the problems. "The fiasco of the former Tagus-Segura water transfer will be repeated on an ever-increasing scale if the Spanish Ebro water transfer is pushed forward by the Spanish government," says Guido Schmidt, Freshwater Officer from WWF-Spain. "The Ebro water transfer goes against sustainable development, modern water and river basin management, and environmental protection, all concepts dear to the European Union."

The Tagus-Segura Transfer from the Iberian System in Central Spain to the Mediterranean Levante Zone is a well-studied water transfer. It has been operating since 1979, and has caused severe impacts in both river basins, including:

  • Increasing water deficit: The water demand in the receiving basin has been doubled in 24 years by 500 million m³ due to the increase of irrigation and tourism demands.

  • Habitat destruction and promotion of unsustainable agriculture: The increase of irrigated land and tourist activities has led to the destruction of thousands of hectares of protected natural areas.

  • Black water market and illegal water uses: Water uses are partially uncontrolled. More than 100 million m³ of transferred water simply 'disappears' to supply illegal tourist resorts and golf courses.

  • Water overexploitation in the Tagus donor basin and, as a consequence, chemical contamination and the deterioration of the river ecosystem. Even in normal summers, the river has stopped any water flow in some sections, let alone critical periods of drought. The legal minimum flow of 6m3/s is not respected.

  • Increased social imbalance as the benefits of the transfer are mainly directed towards big agro-business and construction companies, marginalizing traditional farmers. Additionally, illegal immigration and exploitation of immigrants are increasing with about 30 per cent black labour — the highest levels in Spain.

WWF and EEB urge the Spanish government to apply a different, modern, and world-wide successfully applied alternative to large scale water transfers: demand management, which is based on resource conservation by lowering demands, increasing efficiency of distribution and use, and reuse of waste water. The EU must stop funding water transfers where alternatives exist or have not been evaluated properly. European taxpayers’ money must not be wasted for a repetition of the mistakes of the past.

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Malta Independent
May 6, 2003

In his first speech since being appointed Resources Minister, Ninu Zammit said desalination of water constitutes part of the solution to the problem of accessibility to fresh water for everyone. Mr Zammit gave the opening address at an environmental conference and exhibition opened in St Julian’s yesterday.Called Desalination and the Environment: Fresh Water for All, delegates from around 40 countries travelled to Malta at the weekend for the four-day conference.Mr Zammit said the conference had coincided with Malta’s accession to the European Union, “and the beginning of our efforts to give a European dimension to all our policies.” “In spite of the fact that Malta is the smallest of the mini states of the union, it was never our intention to simply eke out of the union all the benefits we can, without contributing anything in return,” he continued.

The minister spoke about the proposed European constitution which “many felt would imply the disempowerment of all small countries, but during the on-going deliberations of this Convention (on the Future of Europe) there has erupted a reaction aimed at restoring full respect for the principle of the equality of all member states.” He continued to say that Malta saw the European Union “as a network operating at many levels”. The conference is a distinct contribution to the eventual elimination of the great European dilemma of the moment: “Everybody knows that a supply of fresh water is one of the most acute, although often concealed, sources of conflictual dangers in the area,” he said.

Desalination, the minister added, was “a method of water provision which does not incur exorbitant environmental costs”. It was also the method which doubled Malta’s water production capacity between 1987 to 1996 - the period when Mr Zammit was responsible for water and energy. “We are ready to cooperate wholeheartedly towards the enhancement of all related European initiatives which, owing to a lack of wisdom and knowledge about water, are still needed to save mankind from wreckage,” he concluded. The delegates will visit the reverse osmosis plants at Pembroke and Lapsi while in Malta. Built in 1982, Lapsi was the first plant in Malta’s desalination programme and last year the energy recovery capability was enhanced through the use of pressure exchangers which resulted in 25 per cent less energy consumption.

Energy recovery at Pembroke was enhanced by the replacement of reverse running pumps by Pelton wheels, which achieved a saving in energy consumption of about 20 per cent. One of the presentations was given by Jan G Janssens from the World bank. Global trends in Water System Financing, Water and sanitation for All, How to Finance it? gave the World Bank perspectives on the problem. Mr Janssens said that over one billion people are without safe water and existing systems are run down: “Developing and transitional economies need up to $50 billion a year or one per cent of GDP.” However, he added, this is the same old story and there is no money to finance it. In his presentation, Mr Janssens pointed out that the world has a growing population, with an exploding urban population. There are around 12 million deaths from water scarcity in the world and poverty is still increasing in developing countries.

The World Bank have said that by 2015 they want to halve the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and halve the number of people without access to basic sanitation. He added that the public sector needs help to supply everyone with fresh water and the private sector cannot act in isolation either. “National governments must have realistic expectations, encourage competition and remove barriers to affordable system development.” He concluded by talking about the way forward: “Now, more than ever, there is a need for private sector engagement in water and sanitation service delivery - but the challenges are increasing rather than decreasing.” “We all need to be realistic about the risks and burdens that the private sector can bear. We must work together to maximise the benefits that the private sector can bring through the use of innovative financing, risk mitigation and more affordable solutions,” he said.

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World Bank
May 6, 2003

WASHINGTON, May 6, 2003—Access to safe drinking water and sanitation will be improved in around 940 villages in war-affected areas of Sri Lanka with a US$39.8 million grant approved by the World Bank today.  The grant is being provided through the Bank’s Post-Conflict Fund to support the Government of Sri Lanka’s commitment to provide safe drinking water and adequate sanitation to its entire population by the year 2010, and will cover areas in the North, East, Northwest and Central provinces over the next six years. 

It directly supports the Government’s Rural Water Supply and Sanitation  Program and will follow a “bottom-up” approach in which communities design, finance, implement and maintain their own sub-projects.  It will also help the Government move ahead with transferring responsibility for allocating financial resources, providing technical support and monitoring and coordinating provincial programs in this sector, to the local government. 

“Nobody has a better idea of a community’s needs and the best way to meet them, than the community members themselves,” said Toshiaki Keicho, a World Bank senior urban environment specialist and task leader for the project.  “Empowering local government to better assist them will complete the picture.  The Government has shown strong commitment in both areas and we are glad to be able to support a goal which will improve the quality of life of the country’s poorest people.” The Second Community Water Supply and Sanitation Project builds on the positive results of an earlier project supported by the Bank between 1992 and 1998, which benefited people in over 2500 villages in the Badulla, Ratnapura and Matara districts.  The community-based approach in this sector was piloted by the first project and subsequently adopted and expanded to six new districts with the support of Asian Development Bank funding.  The total cost of the second project is US$ 62.4 million, of which the Government and communities will contribute about US$ 22 million.

Only around 40 percent of people in villages and small towns in Sri Lanka have private access to safe water sources, and around 30 percent have access to a sanitary latrine, according to the 2001 Demographic and Health Survey undertaken by the Department of Census and Statistics.  This data does not cover the North and East, but anecdotal evidence suggests the situation is even worse in these regions, which were affected by 20 years of civil conflict.

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United Nations
May 6, 2003

6 May – Although flood waters have begun receding in the Dadaab refugee camp complex in north-eastern Kenya, where more than 3,000 refugees have been left homeless, the United Nations refugee agency said today it remained “very worried” about sanitation and the possible spread of water-borne diseases.

Large sections of the two most affected camps – Ifo and Dagahaley, which together host more than 80,000 refugees, mainly from Somalia – are still under water, impeding access within and around them, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said.

“Pit latrines have collapsed while some are overflowing,” UNHCR declared. “There is stagnant water everywhere. Our health partner at the camp, MSF-Belgium (the non-governmental organization, Médecins Sans Frontières), is prepared to handle an increased number of consultations for various illnesses.”

On Sunday, UNHCR airlifted some 12,000 litres of much-needed fuel from Garissa, the northeastern provincial capital, as parts of the road linking Garissa and Dadaab remained impassable. The fuel supplies will cover the camps' needs for the next six to eight days for vehicles as well as to power generators in offices, hospitals and clinics and to run water pumps throughout the three-camp complex of 130,000.

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May 6, 2003

Bamako, Mali, 6 May 2003 (IUCN) - West Africa increases its regional collaboration on water management to deal with the impacts of climate change and desertification. A regional strategy in development deals with the need for increased collaboration, information sharing and awareness-raising in the region."Climate change is one of the most important challenges for the dry countries of West Africa. Increased regional collaboration through this strategy can greatly help the national institutions to improve water resources management", said Mr Yafon Berthe, Secretary General of the Ministry of Environment of Mali.

The general preparedness of the countries of West Africa to climate variability and change is low, even when they already feel the impacts of desertification. It is also a region where many of the rivers are shared by different countries. The Senegal River flows through Guinea, Mali, Mauritania and Senegal and the Niger River, the longest in West Africa, flows through Guinea, Mali, Niger and Nigeria. In such a context, effective mitigation of the impacts of climate change can only be achieved if countries work together on the management of their shared water resources. The regional strategy aims to increase the awareness of decision-makers and increase coordination and sharing of knowledge between various governments and institutions in West Africa. Many of the future impacts of climate change, especially at a regional or national level, are still unknown. "We are working towards the regional pooling of expertise. We need more knowledge on the impacts of climate change as much as we need to review laws, find resources, and take action for integrated water management", said Professor Abel Afouda, one of the contributors to the draft regional strategy.

The strategy called " Water, Climate Change and Desertification in West Africa : strategy and plan of action for regional preparedness and adaptation" has been formulated over the past several months. This meeting of experts, policy makers and river basin managers in Mali was a key step to improve the strategy and move towards regional implementation. "There are some important actions already being taken by governments or basin organizations, but these will remain drops in the desert if we cannot find a way to learn and work together", said Dr. Madiodio Niasse of IUCN's West Africa Regional Office.  The workshop was jointly organised by IUCN-The World Conservation Union's Regional Office for West Africa, the Inter-States Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS) and the Global Water Partnership- West African Water Partnership (GWP-WAWP) from the 23rd to the 25th of April 2003 in Bamako (Mali).

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World Bank
May 6, 2003

May 6, 2003—Water needs to be higher on the development agenda of countries in the Balkans, since better river basin management can pre-empt floods, drought, coastal erosion and river pollution, according to Water Resources Management in South Eastern Europe, a World Bank report released today.  The report examines seven countries in detail -- Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Romania, and Serbia and Montenegro -- as well as sources and consequences of poor water resources management in the South Eastern Europe (SEE) sub-region. It also provides examples of successful water programs and projects.

The two-volume report is being issued ahead of a May 6-7 conference on Sustainable Development for Lasting Peace: Shared Water, Shared Future, Shared Knowledge, hosted by the Government of Greece during its Presidency of the European Union (EU) and co-organized by the World Bank in Athens, Greece. The event will bring together government officials from SEE countries, the Mediterranean and the Middle East, as well as representatives from various international financial institutions to discuss the management of transboundary water resources.

International river basins are prominent in South East Europe’s geography and have helped   trade to flourish for centuries. Indeed, 90 percent of the sub-region’s territory is in international river-basins, making cooperation among countries essential. In addition to the Danube and its five tributaries, ten smaller international river basins flow into the Adriatic and the Aegean.  For example, the Drin includes FYR Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro and Albania and challenges include watershed degradation, lake and fisheries management, unplanned developments along shorelines, untreated wastewater and poor solid waste management and wetland ecosystem management.  These issues affect all three countries.

“Given the momentum for European integration and the environmental standards that aspiring countries in the sub-region must meet to join the EU, more financing as well as policy and institutional reforms are urgently needed to tackle pressing water problems—action now will avoid a bigger price tag later on,” says Marjory-Anne Bromhead, Sector Manager for Natural Resources and Agricultural Services in the World Bank’s Europe and Central Asia Region and co-author of the report.  A key finding from the report is that poor river basin management increases economic damage and loss of life from floods, droughts, landslides and erosion as well as water pollution. Low quality water carries health risks, damages fisheries, tourism and recreation industries and leads to ecosystem losses. Poor drinking water service delivery affects the well-being of local communities, while unreliable irrigation water leads to loss of livelihoods. The misallocation of water can lead to insufficient supplies for irrigation, hydro-electric energy, municipal water supply and ecosystem maintenance. 

The report identifies South Eastern Europe’s key water challenges, detailing the diverse conditions in the seven countries.  In the northern countries of Croatia and Romania, water resources are generally abundant and the challenges are primarily flood and watershed management and improving water quality.  In the southern states, such as Bulgaria and FYR Macedonia, water is scarcer and countries need to balance use between competing sectors, such as summer irrigation versus winter hydro-electric energy, and using water for towns and industries versus maintaining ecosystems and wetlands.  All countries are developing water management institutions that reflect multiple interests, but some are facing more difficulties than others, such as Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and FYR Macedonia. 

“South Eastern Europe has faced difficulties of deteriorating infrastructure for water and sanitation, irrigation, drainage and water regulation, linked in part to weakness of public sector institutions and broader fiscal and governance issues,” notes Rita Cestti, Senior Water Resources Economist in the Bank’s Europe and Central Asia Region and co-author of the report. “Governments are working to put in place institutional frameworks, regulations and economic incentive regimes that reflect multi-stakeholder consensus, and at the same time provide for efficient use of water and adequate service delivery,” she adds.

Lake Ohrid, one of the oldest lakes in Europe, straddles Albania and FYR Macedonia. In 1996, both countries agreed to carry out the Lake Ohrid Conservation Project—financed by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and executed by the World Bank—with the goal of conserving and protecting its unique biodiversity and watershed through a joint management arrangement. A Lake Ohrid Management Board was set up and a bi-national monitoring task force has produced a State of the Environment Report.

The project has facilitated cooperation between local authorities on both sides of the lake and has helped mobilize substantial investment assistance, including for the funding for sewage treatment, solid waste management, and water supply system improvements. A separate Bank-financed Albania Fisheries Project will also benefit the lake.

The second volume of the report is comprised of Country Water Notes and Water Fact Sheets individually tailored to the seven focus countries, which share transboundary water resource problems. The Country Water Notes specify the differences in socio-economic conditions, geography, water resource management institutions and country legislation, and provide a wealth of examples on interstate cooperation.

While Bank cumulative assistance for water resource management in SEE countries has been small to date, there has been considerable assistance with improved water service delivery.   Urban water supply projects, such as the Eastern Slavonia Reconstruction Project in Croatia, have focused on developing financially viable institutions, improving service water supply and wastewater delivery, and addressing the challenges of wetland management.  Irrigation projects (in Albania and FYR Macedonia) have sought to decentralize responsibility for irrigation maintenance to local users’ associations and are now tackling broader system management.  Financing for rural water and sanitation, combined with support to local communities and local governments to maintain services, is increasing, with operations under way in Romania and Albania. Romania now has a major operation in flood management and hazards mitigation under preparation.

Regional support for water-related issues

The World Bank’s Europe and Central Asia region has a water sector portfolio totaling US$2 billion to date, of which 65 percent is for urban water and sanitation interventions and for flood management. Other World Bank operations include irrigation and drainage, dam safety, wetlands management and restoration, and water resource management. The report calls for an increased focus on partnerships between the SEE countries, the EU, and bilateral and multilateral organizations, to improve water management and services delivery.

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United Nations
May 5, 2003

5 May – As the governing board of the United Nations agency for urban settlements opened its annual session today in Kenya, Secretary-General Kofi Annan reminded delegates that the world is counting on them to guide the collective efforts to build peaceful and prosperous cities.  In a message to the UN Human Settlement Programme (UN-HABITAT) meeting, Mr. Annan noted that the agency has been at the forefront of helping governments manage the complex problems of urbanization, including successful post-conflict rehabilitation and the reconstruction of urban areas, and that the global community continues to count on this strategic vision.

The Governing Council of UN-HABITAT - the UN agency mandated to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities with the goal of providing shelter for all - is meeting through tomorrow in Nairobi to discuss the agency's work programme and budget for 2004-2005. This year's session will also focus on themes related to urban development and shelter strategies favouring the poor, and the rural dimension of sustainable urban development.  In his message, which was delivered on his behalf by UN-HABITAT Executive Director Anna Tibaijuka, Mr. Annan said: "Indeed, such concerns and challenges - including the need to improve the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by 2020 - are at the hearts of the Millennium Development Goals and other commitments made by world leaders."

Mr. Annan added that good governance was a crucial factor in attracting the financing necessary to improve conditions in slums and provide safe water and sanitation services. He also urged the Council to take a holistic approach that takes into account the economic and environmental concerns of a city's neighbouring rural communities.  In her own policy statement, Ms. Tibaijuka warned that, "If we do not commit the necessary resources and the proper capabilities to managing the problems of urbanization, cities will continue to be seen as a development problem and not as a solution."

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The East African Standard (Nairobi)
May 5, 2003

Flood disasters demonstrate a very weak water resources management strategy, Water Resources Minister Ms Martha Karua admits. Karua told an Urban Rivers Symposium in Nairobi that her ministry inherited weak management strategies from the previous government. She wondered why no measures were taken when, in fact, the weaknesses were brought out clearly during the 1997 to 1998 El Nino and the 1999 to 2000 La Nina (drought) periods. Saying that the Government acknowledges the country is vulnerable to climate variability, she said her ministry will soon develop a long range plan to mitigate the vagaries of persistent floods and droughts that afflict the country.

Between 1983 and now, Karua said, Kenya has faced 23 separate droughts and warned that they could keep on recurring owing to climatic change and the destruction of forest cover which now stands at 1.7 per cent of the land mass. Karua estimated that inadequate preparedness to rainfall variability cost Kenya an estimated 15 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) during the crisis period of 1997 to 2000. She said as a move to face out the problem, the Government will seek the assistant of the United Nations Environment Programme (Unep) to carry out an assessment of problematic river basins.

She added that construction of environmentally sustainable dams and pans will be part of this plan. "As a ministry we shall endeavour through prudent planning to ensure that the annual flooding is controlled and its effects minimised," said Karua. The minister noted that even as the flooding is affecting many populations in the country, Kenya is still classified as a "chronically water-scarce country." She said per capita availability of water currently is 647 cubic meters and is projected to fall to 235 cubic meters by 2025. Current figures for Uganda and Tanzania are 2,696 cubic metres per capita and 2,940 respectively.

"Put another way, if each Kenyan has one glass of water, a Tanzanian has five while a Ugandan has four glasses," said Karua. She added that Kenya's situation is worrying. She attributed water scarcity to limited natural endowment, population increase and imprudent management of the commodity. She said poor water resource management is costing Kenya $48 million (Sh3.6 billion) each year. Karua said the rampant destruction of forests has led to reduced water volumes and reduction of ground water which could result in loss of investment for those who have drilled bore-holes.

The minister said 19 million Kenyans have access to water but added that the service is of poor quality and under-investment in maintenance has resulted in collapse of water services infrastructure. Karua disclosed that the sector needs over US$300 million (Sh22.2 billion) for immediate rehabilitation of the piped water supply and sewerage system yet available resources are a meagre US$20 million per year.

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The Monitor (Kampala)
May 3, 2003

A Shs 735m water supply system has been commissioned on Ssese Island in Kalangala district.

The Minister of State for Water Maria Mutagamba launched the project on 29 April and advised the residents to eradicate poverty. "Poverty alleviation is a key government policy, which can be achieved through improved sanitation and hygiene at house hold level, focusing on hygienic maintenance measures," she said.

Ms Mutagamba also advised residents to stop contaminating the lake waters saying they might contract diseases like cholera, dysentery and typhoid. "The accessibility to clean and safe water by Ugandans is now a human right and entrenched in the Constitution under Article 29," she said. She said the government's long-term goal is to ensure that 100 percent access of safe water services is completed by 2010 for the urban population. "At present, only 68 percent of the population in urban areas and 55 percent in rural areas have access to clean and safe water," she said. An official from the directorate of water development, Mr Patrick Kahangire said government supports the project because it has no external donors. Local MP Fred Badda encouraged the local authorities to ensure that the project is managed well.

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United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development
May 2, 2003

New York, 2 May 2003 – At the end of three days of high-level Ministerial discussions at the Commission on Sustainable Development's Eleventh Session (CSD11), water has emerged as the leading choice to be the overarching issue for this United Nations body to focus on for the next two years. More than 40 Ministers have gathered in New York for the high-level segment of the two-week meeting, which runs from 28 April to 9 May, to give political and practical guidance on how to move forward with implementing sustainable development, following up on decisions agreed at the World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg, South Africa, last September.

"Access to freshwater is the single biggest contribution to alleviating poverty," said Mr. Valli Moosa, Minister for Environmental Affairs and Tourism for the Republic of South Africa and Chair of the Commission session, explaining why consensus was developing over the issue.

"Water has a cross-cutting impact on a whole range of issues from water management to healthcare and gender issues," he added. It is, he noted, also an important issue that could be best tackled by the Commission because no other international body exists that can ensure an integrated approach towards the problem.

Clean drinking water and adequate sanitation are necessary to protect human health and the environment. Some 1.2 billion people - roughly one-sixth of the world’s population – lack access to safe water, and 2.4 billion or 40 per cent of the world’s people lack access to adequate sanitation services. Governments have agreed to halve by 2015 the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation, at the Millennium Summit and Johannesburg Summit respectively.

The Commission, which meets annually, was created by the United Nations General Assembly to monitor and report on implementation of Agenda 21, the blueprint for sustainable development adopted at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. World leaders at the Johannesburg Summit called on the Commission to play a larger role in promoting implementation.

"Although we are not negotiating major policies during this session, this is a vital meeting because it will set the tone for the future," said Mr. Moosa. "It is the Commission that will determine if this will be a decade of implementation." Focusing on one selected issue every two years would "bolster implementation", he added.

Many Ministers suggested that, in addition to water, energy is another issue that the Commission should tackle in the near term. That would include access to electricity and modern energy services, renewable energy and energy-related pollution, climate change and transport issues. As with water, there is currently no international forum that coordinates

policy and action on energy. Building on the Ministerial inputs, a draft decision covering the Commission’s work plan has been issued by the Chair and the details will be hammered out by negotiators over the next week.

See Also:

CSD11 official website:

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Daily Trust (Abuja)
May 8, 2003

Water has remained an important natural endowment which the various Nigerian people's have continued to lack. Rivers, lakes, ponds, streams and various other kinds of water sources abound in the country. Yet many people have died, with the health of many more jeopardised on account of the lack of water.

At both federal and state levels, several millions of dollars have been committed to providing water for a people who increasingly become sick for lack of same. A recent instance was the failed $500 million World Bank assisted Rural Water Rehabilitation Scheme. A project by which the rural population of Nigeria, which takes about 80 per cent of the over 120 million people, were to gain access to drinking water. Since last year when this project failed, there have been a few other rural water supply projects bearing different nomenclatures, but whose impact is yet to be noticed.

This unceasing water crisis has left many rural populations to explore creative ways of sourcing water. Piwoyi, a little village of some 10,000 persons located at the western entry to the Abuja City centre, is one of the several thousands of rural settlements in Nigeria, where an interesting scenario is unfolding in the creative sourcing and dynamic use of water. This is a typical rural settlement whose gentle name sounds like the musical waters of an unceasing stream. Piwoyi is the only village in the Federal Capital Territory to have beenvisited by President Obasanjo. According to John Gatta, the village head of Piwoyi, when in the year 2000, President Obasanjo paid a casual visit to the village, he did promise the people that he was going to ensure that portable water supply was extended to the village. Today is three years since the president's visit, and the people of Piwoyi, like their millions of counterparts in rural areas across the country, have continued to suffer the lack of drinking water. Like other towns in the capital territory and beyond, the people of Piwoyi rely entirely on vendors who supply water to the village in tankers at very high costs. The severe water crisis has no doubt exposed the people to various kinds of health hazards, including socio-economic deprivations.

Piwoyi, is a Gbagyi word said to mean "New Settlement." This "New Settlement" which was indeed founded by the Gbagyis about half a century ago, has continued to grow in size and population, with commercial activities, socio-economic infrastructures such as schools and cottage industries, increasing almost on a daily basis. Much more than before the president's visit, the people need water now. What is however amazing is how this bitter experience of the people of Piwoyi, which is made up of Nigerians of different backgrounds and origins, has brought out a certain creativity in them with respect to the sourcing and use of water. Down the eastern end of the village, there is a river which comes surging in an arc that seems to envelop the little village. The source of this river is yet to be established. About 35 meters in width, the river is not quite deep, and interestingly has large pebbles and surrounding vegetation of luxuriant proportion.

Like a garden deliberately packaged by nature to soothe the people, majority of the vegetation species around the bank of the river are fruit-bearing. Besides, at different locations, in different slopes and slants, there are hills around the river, shadowed by the surrounding trees, which provide convenient platforms for various kinds of activities such as picnics, reading, washing, bathing etc. Across the length and breadth of the river, the pebbles exist in such sizes that they easily serve as stepping stones by which people cross from one side to the other end of the river. On the whole, the surrounding ever green vegetations together with the persistently flowing river, provides a very cool and slightly breezy environment which the people of Piwoyi have not failed to utilise.

According to John Gatta, the river which runs through the upper Utako district was one of the basic attractions that led to the founding of the "New Settlement." "Now that we have people from various parts of the country in Piwoyi, this river has become very resourceful not only to Piwoyi people, but also to neighbouring towns such as Aleita, Chika, Kuchi Gwolo etc. At the earliest times, the Piwoyi River was good enough and was used for drinking and other domestic activities such as washing of plates etc. The forest used to be thicker than what it is today. The water level also used to be higher to such extent that one coult not notice the pebbles at the river bed. But today, there have been significant withdrawals of and contamination of the water due to increasing use," Chief John stated, adding that the people were most surprised at the president's visit three years ago, and had happily anticipated safe drinking water in the village before the present time.

Broken promises notwithstanding, the situational beauty and the ever flowing character of the Piwoyi River has come to the creative sensibility of the many less-privileged Nigerians living along airport road, such that the Piwoyi River, inspite of its unorganised and untreated nature, is not only useful for day to day washing of clothes, but a potential resort where friends, neighbours and families take time out to relax during the weekends. While the people still cherish the freedom with which they use the river for their various purposes, they still seem to be waiting for a potential investor who would develop it into a better resort. Under the current atmosphere of freedom, every weekend friends proceed to have a nice time at the river with bottles of wine and snacks.

Daily Trust visited this place and discovered that there are equally those who visit the river in search of a serene environment to read novels, while some find it more interesting to play chess games and ludo in the natural environment. An interesting observation is that the river has been partitioned among men and women. The upper course of the river is strictly reserved for the men who might be completely naked while swimming or playing games, or having other kinds of fun. The lower course of the river which is the female's domain is equally restricted, though not as strict as the men's domain. There is however the arc section which is opened to both sexes. In this area men and women, boy and girls could be seen swimming or bathing or washing as the case may be. No one cares to stare at the other. According to Daniel Godwin, a young sturdy guy of almost 30, "it is no big deal if a young girl comes around and sees a young man swimming or washing clothes. Godwin describes the Piwoyi River as "a little Miami beach in Abuja, awaiting development."

A young lady who also spoke to Daily Trust however laments what she described as a sad development which itself has raised further questions. "Although the river flows round the year, and has been very helpful to us, but now the dry season, during which the water body is clean and safe for swimming, is passing away. There is an increasing intensity of heat. As the rainy season sets in the occasional showers of rain have increased the water level, and gradually swallowing up the pebbles and making the water dirty and unsafe for swimming." The question one would probably ask is why, inspite of broken promises has the government not taken the development of river resorts seriously in the capital territory. And when, as a matter of fact, would the ordinary Nigerian be rescued from the hazards of the lack of water?

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United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development
May 7, 2003

To meet the goals set at the 2000 Millennium Summit, halving the number of people without access to safe drinking water and sanitation services by 2015 and devising integrated water management in all countries by 2005, the international community must double the $15 billion annually it was currently spending for potable water and sanitation services, the Commission on Sustainable Development was told this morning.

Addressing a panel being held to commemorate the International Year of Freshwater, Albert Wright, Co-Chair of the Water and Sanitation Task Force of the Millennium Project, added that, by the close of the meeting an estimated 1,000 children would die from unsafe water and water deprivation was as destructive as any major weapon.  Diarrhoea-related deaths resulting from unsafe water claimed the lives of 3 million people in 1990, mainly children.

The panel was chaired by Ronnie Kasrils, Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry of South Africa, and the keynote address was given by Crown Prince Willem Alexander of the Netherlands.  Other panel members included:  Nitin Desai, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs; Koichi Haraguchi, Permanent Representative of Japan; William Cosgrove, Vice-Chairman of the World Water Council; Jennifer Francis, Executive Secretary of the Gender and Water Alliance; and Richard Jolly, Chairman of the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaboration Council.

Panelists addressed a wide range of topics, among them sustainable water management policies, monitoring and assessment; links between water resources, education and gender equality; sanitation; and finance strategies.  Following the discussion, the Commission was presented with an overview of the first edition of the World Water Development Report. Echoing Mr. Wright’s concerns, Mr. Desai called for scaling up water conservation and development, noting that meeting the Millennium Development Goals would require bringing freshwater to an additional 200,000 people and sanitation services to 400,000 people daily.  Moreover, integrated and sustainable management of all uses of water resources, from drinking and sanitation to irrigation and industrial uses, was required.  That called for innovative organizational and technological solutions, better information exchange, capacity-building in developing nations and greater financial resources. The recently released World Water Development Report, he continued, was a good example of integrated water monitoring and assessment at the global level.

Prince Willem Alexander said that there would be little hope of providing sanitation to the world’s poor if the international community merely carried on with business as usual.  He stressed the importance of linking water management to other issues, such as education and gender equality.  Turning to the fight against hunger, he called for an agricultural revolution, featuring new technologically enhanced crops capable of thriving with less water.  He also stated that, despite this year’s emphasis on freshwater, the international community should also focus on protecting its oceans.  He praised the United Nations’ involvement in water issues, noting that 23 United Nations agencies were working in that area, collaborating on the World Water Development Report.

Mr. Kasrils stressed the need to link people of the planet with water targets made during the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, and the Third World Water Forum in Kyoto, which had been held 16-23 March this year. During the Kyoto ministerial conference, ministers concurred that good governance at the grass-roots level, with greater emphasis on household and community-based water management approaches, was indispensable for health and welfare, said Mr. Haraguchi.  That required capacity-building.  Ministers also agreed to set up an online water network clearinghouse.  Japan, he said, was doing its part to shore up funding for water sustainability, creating its own official development assistance scheme, including grants and low-interest loans for water resource development for developing countries.

Mr. Cosgrove lamented that the major outcome documents of the third World Water Forum failed to elaborate on future commitments.  Few pledges had been made by developing countries to move ahead with respect to water.  Referring to the World Water Development Report, he said references to water were missing from poverty-reduction strategies throughout the developing world.  Water management must be decentralized and locally owned, rather than imposed from the outside, which had been a recipe for failure in the past.  Moreover, international donors must step in to help countries that had identified water as a priority.

Rashid Alimov, Tajikistan’s permanent representative to the United Nations, said his country, home to more than half of Central Asia’s water resources, was partnering with neighbouring Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan to improve inter-State regulation of transboundary water resources.  In the past, poor management of the Aral Sea, the region’s main water body, had led to widespread pollution and devastating effects on the local economy.  The 10-year-old international fund to save the Aral Sea Basin could be a good base for coordination of common efforts for dealing with Aral Sea Basin concerns in the United Nations.  In August, Tajikistan would host the International Forum on Freshwater, which would address subregional and regional water problems, such as inter-State cooperation, health, water conservation technologies, and agriculture, with an emphasis on strengthening water partnerships.

Ms. Francis said women’s empowerment and gender equality should be integrated in the Millennium Development Goals concerning water.  That required greater involvement of people, especially poor women, in water development projects through equitable contributions to capital costs, operation and maintenance, as well as water infrastructure and system management.  A research project in India involving the Alliance’s grass-roots partners and communities had demonstrated that improved water supply coupled with micro-enterprise development could potentially reduce poverty in semi-arid areas.  The project found better domestic water supplies not only led to better health, hygiene and sanitation, but also economic gains, such as increased women’s earnings and girl’s school enrolment.  

Decisive roles for women in management and planning, and people-centred approaches, using children as agents of change, were also vital, said Mr. Jolly.  In Kyoto, ministers had stressed the importance of education and communication, small-scale and low-cost approaches for the poorest of the poor for sustainable development.  The United Nations’ goal of cutting poverty in half by 2015 was enormously ambitious, but still not enough.  Commitments were needed to help the remaining half, he said, calling for greater social mobilization, media involvement, and a focus on households and communities.

During the ensuing discussion, the representative of Lebanon shared his country’s experiences with the inflow of seawater into underground coastal aquifers and requested advice on how to combat the water crisis in the Middle East.  In response, Mr. Desai said the United Nations, in spite of the region’s political turmoil, had set up and would continue to support several capacity-building programs. Regarding a question from the representative of Bhutan on the need for more aid to build proper water collection, management and distribution infrastructure throughout South Asia, Mr. Desai said the future was bright with respect to overseas development aid pledged in the area of water programmes, with several international donors poised to contribute more.

To the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives’ complaint that governments were deleting references to local and subnational funding in water-related strategy implementation documents, Mr. Cosgrove said at the national level water was often lumped together with other issues.  A greater emphasis on local implementation and financing was needed.  Mr. Jolly and Mr. Wright agreed, calling for new financing strategies and solutions at the local level.  For her part, Ms. Francis noted that local communities were not just beneficiaries, but also equal partners in water resource management. The World Water Development Report, entitled “Water for People, Water for Life”, was presented following the panel.  Produced by 23 United Nations agencies and convention secretariats, it offers a global overview of the state of the world’s freshwater resources.  Participants were:  Pradeep Aggarwal, of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and current chair of the inter-agency coordinating body for water resources; Gordon Young, Coordinator of the World Water Assessment Program; and Andras Szollozy-Nagy, Assistant Director General of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).  They described the Report’s findings and how it could be used to assist countries in moving their sustainable water management strategies forward.

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The Standard (China)
May 6, 2003

About 1.75 billion people in Asian rural areas, and another 300 million in urban areas, live without basic sanitation. Another 750 million people in rural areas and 100 million in urban areas lack access to safe drinking water, according to the Asian Development Bank (ADB).  The ADB tiptoes with care about the extent of the shortcomings of the People's Republic of China in providing the most elementary of services to its citizens (clean water and sanitation). Despite belated efforts to remedy the problem, the most populous country on the planet is likely to rank ahead of all the rest when it comes to tallying the number of citizens forced by the inadequacies of public works programmes to live in unhygienic circumstances.

Water quality measures aside, the mainland has the unenviable reputation of being home to the 10 most polluted cities in the world when it comes to the quality of the air that its citizens must breathe, and testifying to this negligence is the fact that respiratory disease is one of the biggest killers in China.

Yes, China is an ``emerging economy'' and is wrestling with enormous challenges. Over the past 20 years, its urban population exploded from an estimated 190 million or so in 1980, to 378 million by 2000. Plumbing the homes of these newly urbanised citizens - let alone introducing waterborne sewerage services to the rural population - obviously puts a massive strain on the country's public works budget. Located as it is in the Pearl River Delta, Hong Kong and its citizens must suffer the consequences of shortcomings in public hygiene on the mainland.

Some seek to defend China's record in tackling its pollution by pointing to the sheer scale of the problem and a lack of resources to apply expensive solutions. But that argument misses an important point that SARS leaves in its deadly wake: that the biggest threat to peace and stability on the mainland may not come from some formidable external enemy, but from simply failing to address health and environmental issues.

It is not that resources are insufficient, but that priorities need reviewing. China's economic growth has been spectacular, and the People's Liberation Army has been one of the biggest beneficiaries as mainland exporters are welcomed into world markets under agreements reached with the World Trade Organisation. Sadly, public hygiene and the environment has not won its fair share of the resources generated by this economic juggernaut. History may yet judge this as a spectacular misreading of the true nature of the threat to public order and stability on the mainland.

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World Meteorological Organization
May 5, 2003

It is a distinct honour and pleasure for me to extend a warm welcome to all delegates and the representatives of international organizations as we commence the Fourteenth World Meteorological Congress. In particular, it is a privilege to welcome the Ministers and high-level Government Officials of so many of our Members, many of whom had received me warmly during my visits to their respective countries. I particularly wish to extend a warm welcome to His Royal Highness, Prince Ulukalala Lavaka Ata, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Tonga.  We are therefore grateful for their accepting our invitation to join us on this auspicious occasion.  I am also pleased to congratulate Bhutan and Kiribati, two countries that have recently acceded to the WMO Convention and extend our warm welcome to their delegates to this Congress.

As the membership of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) continues to grow, we recall that this year marks the 150th anniversary of the First International Meteorological Conference which formally underlined the importance of meteorology and stressed that international cooperation in the science was a sine qua non to progress. This spirit of cooperation led to the establishment of the International Meteorological Organization in 1873 and subsequently in 1950 to the World Meteorological Organization, a specialized Agency of the United Nations.

For the World Meteorological Organization, Congress remains the highest policy-making organ.  It offers to each of its 187 Members the opportunity to contribute to the formulation of WMO’s policies and Programmes and to the implementation strategies that should guide the Organization into the future. Decisions taken by Congress have implications on the effectiveness of WMO and in some cases affect the contributions of the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) in addressing many of the current and long-term concerns of humankind at national, regional and global levels. The World Meteorological Congress that convenes today will be invited to consider and provide guidance on a wide range of issues of relevance to the sustainable development of nations. The issues include:  

  • Mitigation of natural disasters that have in recent years caused over 60 000 deaths, affected 200 million people, and led to economic losses of up to US$ 100 billion annually. In particular, it is to be recalled that the 1997-1998 El Niño event  alone caused damages estimated at US$ 96 billion;

  • The challenge of water resources management, as over 1.2 billion people presently have no access to drinking water and sanitation and 31 developing countries representing 2.8 billion people already face chronic water problems;

  • Issues related to climate change that may enhance the degradation of the environment and cause sea-level rise with adverse consequences for Small Islands Developing States and coastal areas;

  • The depletion of the ozone layer, an issue that endangers life on planet Earth;

  • Support to food security, as 800 million people face chronic food shortages and malnutrition; and desertification continues to threaten the livelihood of millions of people.

  • Support to other vital sectors of the economy including transport, health and tourism; and,

  • Assistance to Members to meet their international obligations related to the conventions on climate change, desertification and ozone as well as those arising from global conferences s uch as the United Nations Millennium Summit and the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD).

To a large extent, the contributions of WMO in these areas, including the timely warnings on many of today’s environmental concerns have been possible due to painstaking efforts in providing accurate and continuous data and projections of the state of the global atmosphere, water resources and the oceans through WMO’s unique programmes and networks of stations and Centres. In this regard, I am pleased to inform you that a publication on WMO’s role and contributions, particularly in the more recent years, entitled “A Decade of Progress – The World Meteorological Organization in the 1990s and the New Century”, provides additional information on the subject.

The leadership role of WMO in applying scientific and technological innovations, its unflinching support to capacity building including human resources development and its persistent efforts in ensuring that the benefits accruing from related advances in the sciences of meteorology and hydrology are sustained and available to all countries, particularly the developing countries, have been the hallmark of the Organization.  In this respect, support for the weaker Services of the world remains a cornerstone of international cooperation and therefore an innovative support programme for Least Developed Countries is being proposed to Congress.

In view of its leadership role in its own field of competence, WMO is recognized Universally as the UN system’s authoritative voice on the state and behaviour of the Earth’s atmosphere, its interactions with the oceans, the climate it generates and the resulting distribution of water resources on Earth. In this context, the challenge to Congress is to ensure that the significant benefits that the world community derives from WMO system are maintained, even enhanced, recognizing that WMO is one of the foremost organizations in the service of humankind.

Indeed, WMO’s symbiotic relationship with National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) ensures that their contribution to the well being of humankind at national and global levels is carried out in a most cost-effective manner.  It is reckoned that, at national level, the cost-benefit ratio of meteorological services is 1:10. At the international level, the cost-effectiveness of WMO can be partially measured by the fact that the Organization ensures the optimum operation of national meteorological, hydrological and related infrastructures as well as the availability of products and services globally worth more than $ 6 billion dollars a year; that is, a figure 135 times compared to the cost of running WMO. I would therefore invite Congress to take measures that will ensure the enhancement of the comparative advantage of WMO.

The evolution of the global economy, as engendered by globalization and unprecedented advances in science and technology demand that the Organization is strategically placed so that every nation benefits in an equitable manner, from the evolving global socio-economic environment and from the Programmes of the Organization.  WMO should therefore continue to develop innovative ways of delivering services, ensuring free and unrestricted exchange of data and products, enhancing partnership with interested parties, while at the same time enhancing its basic system. 

As Congress takes up these and other issues, I have every confidence that this will be done in the spirit of cooperation that has long been the hallmark of WMO’s meetings. As we look forward to the future, Congress has to keep in view the need to maintain the delicate balance between continuity and change.  I have no doubt that the collective wisdom of Congress will prevail in forging a consensus towards enhanced progress and strengthened contribution of the sciences of meteorology and hydrology to society.  Certainly, there will be difficulties to overcome. Nonetheless, in unity and harmony, the Organization can turn challenges into opportunities, stumbling blocks into stepping stones. The path may be long and arduous; yet, let us remember that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.  Even now, that single important step can be taken to ensure that WMO continues to serve the cause of humanity and the enhancement of international cooperation, which can help to secure security among nations as well as peace, progress and prosperity.

I thank you again, your Royal Highness, Honourable Ministers for being with us on this auspicious occasion, and hope that you will all enjoy your participation in this Congress.

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54) PARALLEL EVENT ON WATER AND SANITATION FOR CITIES, Speech Delivered by Mrs. Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka, Executive Director, UN-HABITAT at a the Nineteenth Session of the Governing Council

May 5, 2003

Honourable Ministers, Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,   I am greatly pleased to join you in this event on water and sanitation for cities. This is the first of five major parallel events that UN-HABITAT is organizing during this Governing Council session. These events are aimed to brief you on some of the key substantive issues which are central to sustaining our cities and towns, and which are receiving increasing attention in our work programme. This meeting is taking place at a time when the issue of water and sanitation is drawing global attention as never before. World leaders meeting at the G-8 Summit in Evian next month will focus on the ways and means of achieving access to water for all. The Millennium Summit and the more recent World Summit on Sustainable Development have left no doubt that water supply and sanitation is central to achieving sustainable development.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, sustainable development starts with people’s health and dignity. Yet, we have entered the new Millennium with these fundamental conditions of human development unmet. More than a billion people in the developing world lack safe drinking water. Nearly three billion people live without access to adequate sanitation. An estimated 14 to 30 thousand people, mostly young children and elderly, die every day from water-related diseases. At this moment, as we discuss this issue, half of the developing world’s people are sick from the same cause.  I come from Africa and I have my own perspective of the dehumanizing aspect of poverty and how it impacts on human development and the environment. A girl child is often forced to trade education for water. Sanitation can be far more than a public health issue to her. It is for her privacy and dignity; for her time and energy; for her health and safety; for the quality of her life.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is indeed a sobering thought that the greatest environmental crisis isn’t something that might happen in the future. It’s something happening right now to a third of the world’s people. Archbishop Desmond Tutu was not cynical when he said during the World Summit on Sustainable Development that, “no issue has ever been more neglected. And it has been neglected because it is of concern mainly to the poor and the powerless.”  I am indeed pleased to see that water and sanitation has finally received its due recognition at political level. This was overdue, but getting this recognition was not easy. I recall that nearly two years ago, at the New York preparatory meeting of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, I shared the platform with Hon. Ronnie Kasrils, Minister from South Africa and Sir Richard Jolly, Chairman of the Water and Sanitation Collaborative Council, to work out a strategy to raise the political profile of water and sanitation at the Johannesburg Summit.

In the Plenary discussion on water at the Summit I strongly highlighted the urban water and sanitation crisis which is now seriously threatening sustainable development of our cities and towns. I said there what I have said before: that sustainable development is not possible if our human settlements in the rapidly growing cities and towns become unsustainable; and the sustainable development of our cities and towns will remain a distant dream if we are unable to provide the basic human needs of safe water and adequate sanitation to our people, particularly to the urban and rural poor.  In the end, this collective effort contributed to the inclusion of the sanitation target in the Plan of Implementation.

An equally important accomplishment of the Johannesburg Summit was to keep its focus tightly on action. It was clear that abstract concepts and high level declarations could not make a difference in the lives of the common man. The important thing was to concentrate on concrete and measurable action.  I signed an agreement with the President of the Asian Development Bank, under which ADB and UN-HABITAT, with assistance from the Government of the Netherlands, will jointly bring in $10 million in grant support, to be followed by $500 million investment credit from ADB to Asian cities, specifically targeted to the urban poor. This pro-poor investment will be of critical importance in a region which is home to 70 per cent of the world’s poor.  I am pleased to inform you that this agreement was specifically singled out in the UN Secretary General’s report on the outcomes of the Johannesburg Summit, as one of four concrete, significant commitments to come from the international community on water and sanitation.

I congratulate the Government of Japan for successfully organizing the 3rd World Water Forum, held in Japan in March this year. Mr. Ryutaro Hashimoto, the former Prime Minister of Japan and the Chair of the National Steering Committee of the Forum, had personally requested me to lend UN-HABITAT’s support to bring the water and sanitation issues for the urban poor to the Forum. Working with our partners - the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, leaders of the Water industry and leading NGOs in the sector, we coordinated some 27 events on the theme of Water and sanitation for Cities in Osaka. This provided the basis for the Ministerial Statement adopted in Kyoto at the conclusion of the Forum.

Ladies and Gentlemen, thanks to the sustained effort of the global community over the past years, we can now see growing political commitment to address the internationally agreed goals for water and sanitation. Much, however, remains to be accomplished to translate this political commitment into concrete action at local level.  As a member of the United Nations Millennium Task Force, UN-HABITAT has recently carried out the, first ever, global assessment of the state of water and sanitation in the world’s cities. The report, which was launched in Osaka during the 3rd World Water Forum, brings out three critical areas of action priorities:

First, there is an urgent need to appraise the policy makers of the true magnitude of the urban water and sanitation crisis. Official national statistics often disguise the real problem of the poor in cities and towns. For example, here in Kenya, the official statistics show that 96 per cent of the urban residents have access to ‘improved’ sanitation. A reality check can give a very different picture. In many slums in Nairobi, 150 or more inhabitants daily queue up for one public toilet. It is difficult to believe but, nonetheless, a grim reality that a slum dweller in Nairobi, forced to rely on private water vendors, pays 5 to 7 times more for a litre of water than an average North American citizen. The health and economic impacts of these service deficiencies can be very costly to a country in the long run.

Secondly, the urban water crisis is essentially, a crisis of governance – of weak policies and poor management – rather than a crisis of scarcity, at least in the immediate term. The cities need sound policies and the political will to back them up; strengthened institutions and trained managers to run them; a responsible private sector and an enlightened public sector to work hand in hand; and finally, an informed public opinion and active participation of communities to draw upon the vast resources of the civil society. In short, the cities need an enabling environment, which could allow all stakeholders to pool together their resources to meet their needs.

Thirdly, there is an alarming decline in per capita investment in water and sanitation in most developing country cities. The annual flow of resources to the sector will have to increase all round – and should double at a minimum - if the MDG targets are to be reached. An important obstacle to stepping up investment flows in water and sanitation has been the reluctance of authorities to put in place realistic pricing policy that could stimulate conservation, discourage waste and ensure cost recovery.  The report also brings out, from around the world, many promising examples of innovation and ingenuity at local level. In many cases, with modest support, these could be scaled-up to provide city-wide solutions and could be replicated elsewhere.

The analytical work in this report, and its central finding – that local solutions are key to achieving global goals – should provide a valuable input to the work of the Millennium Task Force.

Over the past three years, UN-HABITAT has been assisting African countries to improve the management of water in cities. With support from the United Nations Foundation, the World Bank, the Government of the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany and Finland, the Water for African Cities Programme has created an enabling environment for new investments in the seven participating cities (Abidjan, Accra, Addis Ababa, Dakar, Johannesburg, Lusaka and Nairobi).  The experience of this programme was reviewed by the Ministers of the participating countries and the donors at an official side event of WSSD. I am pleased to inform you that the President of the UN Foundation considered the Water for African Cities programme as the most cost-effective among all UNF funded projects to date - with a total portfolio of about $400 million. The programme has been singled out by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), and subsequently by the United Nations General Assembly, for further support.

An important lesson that we have also learnt from this programme is the need to link capacity building to follow-up investment. Collaboration with the World Bank led to significant investment in demand management in the city of Dakar. We have now strengthened this link in Asia by building partnership with the Asian Development Bank from early on. The 500 million dollars loan to be provided by ADB through the Water for Asian Cities Programme will facilitate investments in water and sanitation in Asian cities targeted to the poorest of the poor.  This year, I have also signed an MOU with the President of the Inter-American Development Bank for widening collaboration, with particular focus on water and sanitation in the Latin American region.

Ladies and gentlemen, soon after Johannesburg, on the World Habitat Day in October last year, I announced the establishment of a new Water and Sanitation Trust Fund. This Fund will assist developing countries in their effort to achieve the Millennium Development Goal for water and sanitation.  The Fund will have a special focus for Africa where the need is greatest. The Fund will enable us to take the Water for African Cities Programme to other countries, and to deepen its impact in the participating countries. In Fund operation, first priority will be given to reinforcing the current programmes. As the Fund gathers momentum, new programmes will be implemented in response to initiatives proposed by partner countries. The strategy will be to promote sustainability, local ownership and the creation of an enabling environment for pro-poor investment.

Last week, with welcome support from the Government of Sweden, we organized an expert group meeting to get the advice of sector experts and fund management specialists on various aspects of operation and capitalization of the Fund. I hope that the expert advice will be useful in improving the effectiveness and efficiency of Fund operation and in making the Fund a vehicle to improve the volume and effectiveness of ODA in the sector.  Ladies and Gentlemen, UN-HABITAT has got core competencies, gained through hard-won experience over the years, of what needs to be done in a cost-effective manner to assist member states to achieve the MDGs and the WSSD targets in urban areas. I have called upon our traditional partners to support the Trust Fund and I am encouraged by the positive feedback I have received from a number of donors. I can assure the donors and the prospective recipient countries that we will work together to improve the aid-effectiveness of the Fund supported activities.

I would like to conclude by making a fervent appeal to all of you here today to join the continuing effort of UN-HABITAT to support, what the world leaders eluded in Johannesburg as “humanity’s best investment to achieve development and sustainability”. I will repeat what was said: “We have the technology and talent. It is achievable. We have to act.”  There is time but little time. We must act, and act now.  I thank you for your kind attention.

See Also:

UN-HABITAT Nineteenth Session of the Governing Council

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United Nations
May 5, 2003

It gives me great pleasure to send my greetings to this 19th session, which is also the first meeting of the Governing Council of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme. I would like to express particular gratitude to President Kibaki, and to the Government and people of Kenya, for hosting UN-HABITAT in Nairobi since 1978. That support is just one measure of Kenya's enduring commitment to the United Nations. The decision by Member States to upgrade the Centre to a full Programme indicates the seriousness with which the international community regards the problems caused by rapid urbanization. Indeed, such concerns and challenges – including the need to improve the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by 2020 – are at the heart of the Millennium Development Goals and other commitments made by world leaders, including at the World Summit on Sustainable Development.

Your role, as a newly transformed Governing Council, is to help the international community meet these targets. Your session offers an opportunity for progress in several critical areas. Good governance, for example, is a crucial factor in securing financing to improve conditions in slums and to provide safer water and sanitation services. Partnerships with local authorities and community groups will also be necessary to mobilize political and practical support and, not least, to ensure that projects and policies accurately reflect local needs and aspirations. And sustainable urban development will be incomplete unless it addresses the rural dimension. Therefore I urge you to consider a holistic approach, to take into account the economic and environmental concerns of neighbouring rural communities, and to encourage decentralization as a way of reducing the divide between rural and urban areas.

In the past, under guidance from its governing body, UN-HABITAT has been at the forefront of helping governments manage the complex problems of urbanization, including successful post-conflict rehabilitation and the reconstruction of urban areas. The international community continues to look to you to create a strategic vision that will help implement the Habitat Agenda and guide our collective efforts to build peaceful, prosperous cities and other human settlements. I wish you every success in your deliberations.

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This report by WWF highlights the incompatibility of the Ebro water transfer with sustainable development in the Southeast region of Spain.


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This report by Saleemul Huq, Atiq Rahman, Mama Konate, Youba Sokona and Hannah Reid, focuses on two LDCs, namely Bangladesh in Asia and Mali in Africa, where experience shows that although much has been achieved in terms of describing and analysing vulnerability to climate change and identifying potential adaptation options, there remains much more to be done in terms of mainstreaming adaptation to climate change within the national policy making processes in those countries.


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Mainstreaming Gender in Water Management- A Practical Journey to Sustainability; has been developed by UNDP to assist practitioners in mainstreaming gender within the context of integrated water resources management (IWRM). The resource guide consolidates available materials and gives a quick guide to accessing existing information. UNDP and its partners will aim to continually update the guide in order to keep abreast of new materials, information and concepts.

For more information:
Full text:

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The Convention's Scientific and Technical Review Panel (STRP) is the subsidiary body of volunteer experts that provides technical advice to the Convention on issues of ongoing and emerging importance. In April 2003, the newly-elected STRP, meeting in Gland, sifted through those priorities and devised its Work Plan for the next triennium, defining its Expert Working Groups and their Leads and establishing all the desired outcomes and timetables. This draft Work Plan 2003-2005 has now been approved by the Standing Committee.

For more information:

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This two-volume report aims to summarize key issues and strategic directions for improved WRM at the national and transboundary levels for the South Eastern Europe (SEE) region. The report has been developed within the framework of the recently approved World Bank Water Resources Strategy, which argues for an increased commitment by the World Bank, not only to improved water management, but also to water resources rehabilitation and investment where there is a demonstrated development need.

For more information:

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