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Corruption etc hinder global water distribution

Mismanagement, corruption, lack of funds hinder global water distribution – UN

Although unevenly distributed, the world has plenty of water but mismanagement, limited resources and environmental changes mean that almost one fifth of the planet's population still lacks access to safe drinking water and 40 per cent do not have basic sanitation, according to a new United Nations report issued today.

Citing factors such as “corruption, lack of appropriate institutions, bureaucratic inertia and a shortage of new investments in building human capacity as well as physical infrastructure,” it notes that the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of halving by 2015 the proportion of people without sustainable access to drinking water and basic sanitation will not be met under present trends.

Entitled “Water, a shared responsibility,” the UN World Water Development Report, a triennial study, is the most comprehensive assessment to date of freshwater resources and was released ahead of fourth World Water Forum to be held in Mexico City from 16 to 22 March.

It notes that 1.1 billion people still lack access to safe drinking water, and 2.6 billion lack basic sanitation, over half of them living in China and India.

In many parts of the world, a colossal 30 to 40 per cent or more of water goes unaccounted for, through leakages in pipes and canals and illegal connections, and it is estimated that political corruption costs the water sector millions of dollars every year.

According to the report, only 12 per cent of countries have so far developed integrated water resources management and water efficiency plans, although the 2002 UN Summit on Sustainable Development called for such projects to be in place by 2005.

Financial resources for water are also stagnating. Total official development assistance (ODA) to the sector has averaged some $3 billion in recent years with an additional $1.5 million allocated in non-concessional lending. Only about 12 per cent of these funds, however, reach those most in need, and only 10 per cent is directed to support development of water policy, planning and programmes.

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