Geneva, 13 March 2003 - The World Water Forum opens on Sunday in Kyoto, Japan. By the time it closes on 23 March, 48,000 children will have died because of lack of access to safe drinking water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene, said the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies today.
"That's six thousand children who die every day because they have been denied a basic human right, access to clean water," said the Federation secretary general, Didier Cherpitel. "It's a telling statistic in an appalling litany which includes the fact that four million people die every year from water-related diseases and one billion people do not have access to a safe water supply. This presents a great challenge to governments and humanitarian organizations like ourselves in the century ahead."
The International Federation is calling on governments attending the World Water Forum to ensure meaningful progress is made on the issue of access to water amidst fears that the numbers of people living without clean water and adequate sanitation could rocket to five billion people by the year 2050.
The International Federation is using the occasion of the World Water Forum to hold a parallel meeting of its water and sanitation experts from around the world. "Our key concern at this year's meeting is to discuss ways of extending our community-based programmes particularly in Africa, Asia and Latin America. We hope to be able to find new partners for this work at the Forum," said Uli Jaspers, head of water and sanitation at the Federation.
Worldwide, the Federation provides impoverished communities and victims of disasters with 20 million litres of water per day, benefiting approximately one million people in over 30 programmes at an annual cost of 50 million Swiss francs.
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