Fixes Could Bring Water to Millions
STOCKHOLM - Simple innovations such as recycling household
water and fixing leaky pipes would bring safe drinking
water to hundreds of millions of people lacking it today,
politicians and scientists said yesterday.
More than 1.2 billion people lack access to clean water,
according to the United Nations, and 12 million die of
diseases caused by poor water quality each year, said
speakers at World Water Week, an annual gathering of some
1,200 water experts from 100 countries.
A U.N. action plan aims to halve the number of people
lacking access to clean drinking water and tolerable sanitary
conditions by 2015, but little progress has been made
"There are people in the semi-arid and arid areas
who still have to walk about 10 hours looking for water.
That situation is totally unacceptable," Martha Karua,
Kenya's minister of water resources, told Reuters.
"Kenya is a water-scarce country, but I believe
that with efficient management of our water resources
we can use the available water resources for the benefit
of everybody and to cover all our needs," Karua said
in an interview.
She said rebuilding Nairobi's crumbling water infrastructure
with leaking pipes would cost over $80 billion, but much
also needed to be done to eradicate corruption and misuse.
"In Nairobi around 40 percent of the water is unaccounted
for," Karua said.
"It is estimated that there are around 4,000 water
vendors licensed by the Nairobi City Council. What is
amazing is that very few of these have any known water
source which means basically that we are licensing people
to vandalize the system."
Providing safe drinking water and sanitation would also
save money from health budgets by freeing hospital beds
from those suffering from water-borne diseases and prevent
"SARS developed in an area where there was virtually
no sanitation available and no safe drinking water, and
it affected both the people there but also people living
in Canada and the world economy," said Peter Wilderer,
professor at the Technical University of Munich.
Wilderer has studied recycling household water and said
the technical innovations to cut water use dramatically
are already there.
"This is not an academic exercise. Many large industrial
firms have realized this is the market of the future,"