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UN observes World Water Day

03-23-2012 11:08 BJT

UNITED NATIONS, March 22 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations on Thursday observed the World Water Day to raise the public awareness of the importance of sustainable use of precious water resource.

"Over the coming decades, feeding a growing global population and ensuring food and nutrition security for all will depend on increasing food production. This, in turn, means ensuring the sustainable use of our most critical finite resource -- water," UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said in a message to mark the day, which falls on March 22.

There are 7 billion people to feed on the planet today and another 2 billion are expected to join by 2050, UN officials said here. Statistics say that each person usually drinks from two to four litres of water every day, however most of the water we " drink" is embedded in the food we eat: producing one kilo of beef for example consumes 15,000 litres of water while one kilo of wheat "drinks up" 1,500 litres.

During the last decade over two billion people have gained access to clean water -- a direct result from improved piping supplies and protected wells around the globe, marking a significant milestone. However, according to UN officials, more needs to be done to further improve access to the precious liquid for those in rural areas.

Rolf Luyendijk, the senior statistics and monitoring specialist for the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), there is "still about 783 million people without access to clean water, relying on rivers, streams, and other unprotected sources."

Luyendijksaid that more than half of those in great disadvantage are living in extremely poor and rural regions of Africa, with a great number of those being children, who die of preventable diarrheal diseases.

Ana Persic, the science programme specialist for the UN cultural agency known as UNESCO on the World Water Development Report, said that there is a major important link between water and food security.

"One of the major issues is: what is the demand of water?" she asked.

Supporting Luyendijk's statement, UNICEF's chief of water, sanitation and hygiene, Sanjay Wijesekera, said, "Governments must make sure that their resources achieve real results for the poorest people."

UNICEF further notes that access to water in the sub-Saharan region of Africa is particularly in difficult. An overwhelming number of women and girls are affected by the water crisis -- according to the report, "the rural-urban divide for safe drinking water is particularly acute in poorer countries," with an average of 97 out of 100 rural residents without immediate access to clean water.

Clean water is an essential part of living, giving life to crops and cattle, marking this year's theme of Water and Food Security, as it focuses the importance of one with the other.

"For smallholder farmers in developing countries,water and land cannot be treated as separate issues. If we are to reduce poverty in rural areas, we must develop a holistic approach to focus on water in all of its contributions to development such as in areas of health and agriculture," said Rudolph Cleveringa, the senior technical adviser for the International Fund for Agricultural Development in Rome.

Editor:Wang Lingfei |Source: Xinhua

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