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Last Updated:  Monday, 17 March, 2003, 16:17 GMT
Africa works together on water crisis
By Ben Sutherland
BBC News Online in Kyoto

Two proposals to help aid Africa's desperate water crisis have been announced at the Day of Africa at the Third World Water Forum in Kyoto, Japan.

Water, AP
Botswana's President Festus Mogae (l) delivers his forum speech
An African Water Facility - to pool donations from foreign countries offering money to target water problems - is to be established, along with a roadshow to tour Africa through 2003 and 2004.

The roadshow will be a major project highlighting the importance of African states attempting to meet UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on water.

Thirty-eight per cent of Africans do not have access to clean drinking water - by far the highest proportion in any region of the world; and 40% do not have access to basic sanitation.

Both of these figures need to be halved by 2015 if Africa is to meet the MDGs.

More money

Dr Albert Wright, the chair of the African Water Task Force, said the water facility would "react quickly in partnership with African states" in order to begin immediately tackling the water crisis.

Water, BBC
The greatest challenge of the 21st Century - fresh water
Dr Mahmoud Abu-Zeid

He stated that currently only half the countries in Africa received any help with water, and that the water facility could help raise that percentage by spreading the money around.

The facility will be governed by representatives from all five of Africa's regional economic groups.

The Netherlands had been instrumental in helping set up the facility, he added, and Canada, France and the EU had also expressed interest in supplying funds.

In all, Dr Wright said that he hoped to raise $6m during the 18-month start-up period, and then $25m a year after that.

It would be "a beacon for donors looking to supply aid to Africa for its water supply", he said.

'Sanitary revolution'

Meanwhile, the MDG roadshow will begin later this year in Southern Africa, said Piers Cross, also of the African Water Task Force.

The roadshow would encourage governments and communities seeking to improve water supplies to "make it happen".

"Poverty alleviation in Africa requires large, long-term increases in water development," Mr Cross added.

He said that to meet the MDGs, 400 million Africans would need water services by 2015 - a doubling of clean water supplies and a tripling of sanitation provisions.

In Nigeria alone that would mean providing proper water supplies to 160 million people.

Stressing the importance of meeting the MDGs would lead to a "long-awaited sanitary revolution" throughout Africa, Mr Cross said.

The BBC's Tim Hirsch
"There's plenty of agreement here about what the problem is"

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