WaterAid reports, 'Water Problems Reach Boiling Point'

On March 22, with the launch of the UN Decade of Water for Life and World Water Day 2005, WaterAid issues new research revealing how the United States and other governments will fail to meet their water and sanitation promises to the world's poor unless they improve their performance...

NEW YORK, March 22, 2005 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- On March 22, WaterAid issues new research revealing how the US and other governments will fail to meet their water and sanitation promises to the world's poor unless they improve their performance.

In a new report, "Getting to Boiling Point," WaterAid exposes the financial waste and underinvestment which are currently trapping millions in poverty. But it also gives national governments and the international community the routes forward which, if followed, could enable them to keep their promises to halve the proportion of people without safe water and sanitation by 2015 as set out in their Millennium Development Goals.

UN Secretary Kofi Annan states:
"These targets ... are vital in and of themselves, but are also crucial if we are to meet the other Millennium Development Goals, including reducing child mortality, combating malaria, eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, empowering women, and improving the lives of slum-dwellers."

"Getting to Boiling Point" proves that reaching the Millennium Development water and sanitation targets requires four main courses of action:

-- Fulfill financing promises: Governments need to double money (this includes both aid money and funds from in-country governments) allocated to water and sanitation to reach their agreed Millennium Development targets. The extra $16 billion a year needed is around 15% of Europe's annual alcohol bill or 0.002% of the world's yearly military expenditures.

-- Improve information on water and sanitation: Coverage statistics vary from report to report depending on the author. Government expenditure reports can be years out of date; Investment plans for new infrastructure programs are often only available in highly technical, foreign languages.

-- Ensure it really is the poor who benefit from aid and government money: New water points are often not allocated on the basis of need: better off communities are sometimes provided with unnecessarily expensive technologies leaving the poorest communities with the lowest investment.

-- Prevent waste by coordinating finance and reporting mechanisms between donor governments and also in the countries in question. Local governments have as many as nine different official financing streams for rural water supplies.

WaterAid Director Ravi Narayanan states:
"Water and sanitation problems have reached boiling point: children are dying unnecessarily at the rate of 20 jumbo jets crashing every single day. Millions of women are kept out of work because they have to spend all day collecting water. Children are denied school for the same reasons. However this is one crisis that can be solved. Access to safe water and toilets are the first step out of poverty for most people. The US and other governments have the power to make the change the developing world so desperately needs. All they need now is the will. We must seize this chance to ensure donor governments come up with a concrete action plan to meet their Millennium Development promises."

With extensive data from 14 countries "Getting to Boiling Point" provides a baseline against which further progress on the world's water and sanitation crisis can be measured.

New York-based WaterAid America (www.wateraid.org) is an international NGO dedicated to providing the world's poorest people with access to their most basic needs: safe water and effective sanitation.

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