Official Says Efforts to Solve Global Water Crisis Falling Short
WASHINGTON Hundreds of billions of dollars investment are needed annually to help resolve water supply and sanitation problems in the developing world, far exceeding the sums that donor countries are capable of providing, a senior State Department official said Wednesday.
Much of the resources needed will have to come from within the countries themselves, said John Turner, a department environmental affairs expert, testifying before the House International Relations Committee.
Turner and other witnesses provided grim testimony as to the depth of water shortages in poorer countries.
Despite gains since 1990 in the provision of water and sanitation facilities, "there are still 2.6 billion people without improved services -- over half the developing world's population -- and 1.1 billion still using water from unimproved sources," said Vanessa Tobin an environmental expert at UNICEF.
She said that even if the 2015 U.N. Millennium Development Goals relating to water services are met, another decade of hard work will be required to achieve global coverage.
Committee chairman Henry Hyde, an Illinois Republican, indicated that he supports legislation proposed by Rep. Earl Blumenauer, an Oregon Democrat, that would make safe water and adequate sanitation facilities a strategic part of the U.S. foreign assistance program.
He called the global water and sanitation situation "shocking."
Hyde said the solution does not lie in increasing assistance alone. "Attention needs to be paid to the way funds are distributed," he said. "For example, data suggest that the countries most in need of access to safe water and sanitation have received the least amount of donor assistance."
Olav Kjorven, a senior official at the U.N. Development Program, testified that an array of health issues on the list of Millennium Development Goals are linked at water and sanitation.
"We ask ourselves can poverty and hunger be eradicated or maternal health improved or child mortality reduced or gender inequalities addressed without improved access to water and sanitation. The answer is 'No.' " he said. "These goals cannot be met without water and sanitation."
Kjorven said he strongly endorses the Blumenauer legislation.
Source: Associated Press