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Water Week Wednesday, 25 March, 1998, 10:58 GMT
Minister warns of world water shortage
drought
More money is to be spent on water projects in Africa
Two-thirds of the World's population could be suffering water shortages by the year 2025, if current standards are allowed to continue, according to the International Development Secretary, Clare Short.

"More than a billion people - one in five of the world's population - lack access to safe water. A further three billion don't have basic sanitation. The impact on the poor is almost too severe to imagine," she said at a London conference on global water resources.

She also said that Britain is committed to increasing expenditure on water related projects, ensuring universal access to safe water and sanitation. The government has already promised a 50% increase in what is spent on health, education and water projects in Africa.

Clare Short
Short: committed to increasing expenditure
According to the Department for International Development (DFID), the way we currently manage freshwater supplies is not sustainable. Over three million deaths per year, mainly of children under the age of five, are caused by water related diseases like diarrhoea.

The government has said that good water management is central to the elimination of poverty. It already supports projects in developing countries, like WaterAid in Tanzania, a community-based programme integrating water, sanitation and hygiene education.

Another project in India has helped the State Government set up village water committees, allowing a greater involvement of local people in managing their own water resources.

Public funds not enough

But Ms Short said that public funds alone are not enough. She said she hopes the private sector will play a bigger role in investing and running water systems.

Director of the charity WaterAid, Jon Lane, who was also at the conference said he was impressed that Britain seemed to be taking a new direction.

"I've been attending international conferences on drinking water and development for nigh on ten years, and during this time Britain has not figured amongst the leading nations in the way that the Scandinavian countries have.

"But now the Secretary of State is signalling a change. Her comments in Paris this weekend and again today place Britain amongst the leading group."

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