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Without Water There Is No Life

A yearly U.N. study on poverty gives reasons for world action on water issues. Transcript of radio broadcast:

This is the VOA Special English Development Report.

The United Nations Development Program says the world is facing a water crisis. It says each year, more than two million children die from diseases caused by unclean water. Most of these deaths are from diarrhea and other sicknesses caused by unclean water polluted by human waste.

The warning is in this year's Human Development Report, released by the U.N. agency on November ninth. Kevin Watkins is the lead writer and head of the Human Development Report office. He says these deaths could be prevented with clean water and toilets. The report also finds that almost half the people in developing countries suffer from health problems due to unclean water and lack of waste removal systems.

Mister Watkins says the crisis in health care also reduces economic growth in many developing nations. The report says more than one thousand million people in the world do not have clean water and sanitation.

The Human Development Report proposes a three-part action plan to help solve the crisis. First, Mister Watkins say that governments need to take action to make water a human right. He says national legislation is needed that provides citizens with the right to twenty liters of water a day.

Second, the action plan calls on each nation to spend more on water and sanitation. It proposes that each nation spend at least one percent of the value of all the goods and services the country produces. Third, the plan calls for increased international aid. This would require an additional four thousand million dollars a year, or two times as much international aid, in the next ten years.

Mister Watkins says the world is not running out of water. The crisis is not because of scarcity. He says there is about the same amount of water in the world every year. The real problem, he says, is the governance of water. Governments need to think of water as a limited, valuable resource. The report also urges governments to consider fairness, equality and social justice when supervising water. Mister Watkins says the poorest people and those with limited land rights are the first to lose their ability to get water.

And that's the VOA Special English Development Report, written by Jill Moss. To read our reports and download audio, go to I’m Shep O'Neal.