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UNDP focuses on water and poverty at world forum

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UNDP is focusing at the Third World Water Forum on how improved governance of water resources and community action can help bring safe drinking water to more than a billion people lacking it and adequate sanitation to the 2.4 billion people without it - crucial steps in global efforts to reduce poverty.
More than 10,000 participants are gathering at the forum in Kyoto, Japan, 16-23 March, to discuss solutions to the world water crisis. They include representatives from governments, international organizations and civil society, as well as water experts and scientists.

UNDP is leading a discussion on Water and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on 17 March, focusing on ways to achieve the target of halving the number of people lacking clean drinking water by 2015 and its link to other targets, including those for halving severe poverty and hunger, reducing child mortality, and promoting gender equality.

Reaching the MDGs, agreed on by world leaders in 2000, will require "mobilization of international and domestic financial resources, technology transfer and the capacity to ensure that infrastructure services meet the needs of the poor," said UNDP Administrator Mark Malloch Brown.

Mr. Malloch Brown will launch the Community Water Initiative, which will provide grants to encourage local activities in watershed management, water supply and sanitation, on 21 March. UNDP Global Goodwill Ambassador Misako Konno of Japan will also participate, and Massukos, a jazz band from Mozambique will entertain with songs about water and the environment.

Mr. Malloch Brown will address legislators from around the world at a meeting on Water and Parliamentarians the same day, organized by Global Legislators Organization for a Balanced Environment (GLOBE) International and GLOBE Japan.

UNDP is also launching a Resource Guide on Gender Mainstreaming in Water Management, a publication supporting women's role in this key sector, and is joining with other partners in more than a dozen other events at the forum, including panels on water and climate change; effective water governance; water and cities; and water, education and capacity building.

UNDP has managed US$900 million in projects devoted to sustainable water development in 90 countries over the past decade. The UNDP international waters portfolio, which allocates funds from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), includes 25 projects with $250 million in funding to help protect transboundary waters, such as the Danube, Nile and Mekong rivers.

At the community level, the UNDP Small Grant Programme funded by GEF has supported more than 4,000 projects to safeguard local environments, including water resources, and improve livelihoods. Two other UNDP programmes - the Local Initiative Facility for Urban Environment (LIFE) and Public-Private Partnerships for the Urban Environment (PPPUE) help communities solve water supply, sanitation and other environmental problems.

Mr. Malloch Brown noted that Japan, host of the forum, has helped bring safe drinking water and sanitation to more than 40 million people in the past five years. The US is investing US$970 million in a "Water for the Poor" initiative also supported by Japan, and the European Community has pledged to increase the more than a billion euros it allocates for water projects, particularly in Africa and the Commonwealth of Independent States.

On the web, UNDP is joining with Japan in presenting the Water Showcase, a web site featuring water projects worldwide, interviews and webcasts of forum activities.

For further information please contact Akiko Fujii (akiko.fujii@undp.org), UNDP Toyko Office, Cherie Hart (cherie.hart@undp.org), Asia Regional Communications Officer, or Trygve Olfarnes (trygve.olfarnes@undp.org), UNDP Communications Office.