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Friday, February 12, 1999 Published at 21:46 GMT

World: Europe

Water crisis warning

Water experts meeting in Geneva have warned rich and poor countries alike to tackle what they say is a looming gobal water crisis.

The United Nations agencies who convened the conference UNESCO and the World Meteorological Organisation urged governments to switch resources from defence to environmental projects: they said that in fifty years time more than two billion people could be facing severe water shortages.

Africa and the Middle East are the most affected, but the conference was told the problems extend to countries like Germany and Italy in Europe and India and North Korea in Asia.

Among the main reasons for the crisis are climate change, contamination of water supplies, and high population growth.

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