From: Teresa Cerojano, Associated Press
Published September 27, 2006 12:00 AM

Several Asian Nations Unlikely to Meet UN's Safe Water Target

MANILA, Philippines — India and China are likely to meet U.N.-set targets for access to safe drinking water by 2015, but four other Asian nations are expected to fail, the Asian Development Bank said Wednesday.

Indonesia is on course to miss the safe water target as well as a U.N. goal for improved sanitation, while Pakistan, the Philippines and Vietnam may meet sanitation needs but not the water target, the Manila-based lender said.

In 2000, world leaders agreed to a set of Millennium Development Goals that included cutting in half by 2015 the proportion of people without sustainable access to drinking water and improved sanitation.

In 2002, about 700 million people in the Asia-Pacific region were still without safe water supplies and some 2 billion had inadequate or no toilet facilities, the bank said. Since then investments to address the problems have fallen seriously behind demands across the region, it said.

ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda noted at the opening of a two-day conference Tuesday that improvements on other U.N. development indicators, including income levels, hunger, communicable diseases, maternal and child mortality rates and environmental sustainability, "all have one factor in common: water."

"Water has become everyone's business, and therefore a national development issue" that requires coordination and leadership, not only of the water sector but also finance and planning agencies, civil society, the private sector and development institutions, he said.

The conference, which brings together officials and experts from India, Indonesia, Pakistan, the Philippines and Vietnam, aims to accelerate water investments in the countries by identifying barriers to investments and ways to overcome them.

The ADB said it was working to increase investment in water operations in developing member countries to more than US$2 billion (euro1.58 billion) annually in the next five years, from an average of US$790 million (euro622.29 million) a year in 1990-2005 and US$1.4 billion (euro1.1 billion) in 2005.

The investments would provide 200 million people with safe drinking water and improved sanitation, it said.

Source: Associated Press

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