Will the Water Decade achieve its goals?

The launch of the United Nations' International Decade for Action, "Water for Life" (2005-2015) on World Water Day, 22 March 2005, will be the second international decade on water-related issues under the auspices of the UN. The first was the decade on Drinking Water Supply & Sanitation (1981-1990).

The goals of the new Decade focus strongly on implementation of water-related programmes and projects, the participation of women in water-related development efforts and the furtherance of cooperation at all levels.

According to an early draft from the UN Economic & Social Council (UNESCO) of the Secretary-General's report prepared for the 13th Commission on Sustainable Development to be held on 11-22 April, over the 12 years to 2002, 1.1 billion people gained access to improved drinking water, with global coverage increasing from 77 to 88%. Two-thirds of those still not covered, 675 million people, live in Asia, while in Africa, where coverage is still only 58%, 288 million people lack a decent supply of water.

On the sanitation front, things are much worse.

Over the same period, global sanitation coverage rose from 49 to 58%, leaving 2.6 billion people without adequate sanitation. Allowing for population growth, if the MDG goals are to be met, 1.9 billion extra people will need to be served by 2015.

As industry experts warn that the world is already failing to meet the MDG targets, World Water invites five water specialists to share their views on how the Water Decade goals are to be met.

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