Sunday, July 5, 2009

National level action sought to tackle water woes

28 Oct 2008, The Gulf Today

THE scarcity of hygienic water is going to be the most severe global issue in future, especially in the Middle East, if national level programmes are not initiated to find solutions for water depletion and to preserve resources, a United Nations environment official warned.
“The responsibility to conserve water resources and maintain its quality should be taken national level. The UAE can also address its water scarcity and depletion issues and ensure the availability of quality and clean water, through national level initiatives,” said Dr Richard Robarts, director of the Global Environment Monitoring System-GEMS, an initiative of the UN Environment Programme.
Being the co-ordinator of water database development in more than 100 countries, Dr Richard Robarts spoke to The Gulf Today on the sidelines of ‘Water for Africa’ campaign, launched by Oasis potable water company in conjunction with UNEP GEMS programme.
He highlighted the global crisis in due to the scarcity of pure potable water, and pointed out the crisis could be harshly affected countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Jordan, Palestine and so on. The UAE is the third largest consumer of Water in the world, preceded by US and Canada.
He said, “70 per cent of the world’s water resources of the earth have been consumed for agricultural purposes. We have to learn to live. The life on the planet has an intrinsic reliance on water, as it’s the earth’s most vital natural resource.”
Water has a fundamental bearing on health and survival of human, animal and plant life across the globe. But levels of water scarcity and the depletion of water sources around the world are growing at an alarming rate.”
“The UN cites that almost half of the world’s population faces scarcity of water and nearly one billion people today lack safe sources of drinking water. The lack of safe water and sanitation is the world’s single largest cause of illness. In 2002, about 42 per cent of households had no toilets, and one in six people had no access to safe water,” he added.
According to Dr Robarts millions of babies, children and adults go daily without pure drinking water in Africa, especially in Sub-Saharan countries. They account for more than a third of those without improved drinking water supplies. Around 4,500 children have been reported dying each day from unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation facilities.
“To alleviate the water crisis and to prevent a humanitarian disaster across the African continent, UNEP GEMS programme co-ordinate foreign aid, investment and initiatives of governments, NGOs and corporate sector,” he urged.
Dr Robarts said, “The UN’s GEMS Water Programme is to gather support to ensure that sustainable sources of clean water are available to all citizens of the world, now and for the future. The effort to monitor and facilitates the discovery of available water sources that are hygienic and suitable for human consumption, emphasises the need to preserve natural supplies. The programme also aims at making global water quality information available to all after measure it.
Oasis Water of National Food Product Company conducts the water for Africa campaign as part of providing pure and potable water to poor people in the continent. The programme began on Oct. 15 and will run for a period of eight weeks seeking support of the UAE residents.
“We aim to be a part giving access to clean and life-saving potable water to the people in the most deprived African regions and which is expected to impact and touch the lives of many Africans. An equivalent amount for the sale of drinking water during this two months period will be contributed to people who are in need of pure potable water in Africa,” Emily Billotti of NFPC.

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