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New Web Site Targets World's Unsafe Drinking Water

Scientific groups launch in five languages, with information including treatment methods. Transcript of radio broadcast:

This is the VOA Special English Development Report.

More than one billion people around the world do not have clean drinking water. Their water supplies are unsafe because of natural or man-made pollution, such as industrial chemicals or human and animal wastes. Water-related diseases, like cholera and guinea worm, kill millions of people each year, mostly children.

Last week the United States National Academy of Sciences launched "Safe Drinking Water Is Essential." This Internet-based resource, at, is presented as the first tool of its kind. The aim is to provide high-quality scientific information about improving the safety of drinking water supplies.

The information is provided in five languages: English, French, Spanish, Chinese and Arabic. Some information is presented in short video documentaries.


"In rural areas that lack adequate distribution systems, treatment can be applied at the point of use, using household treatment technologies. Some of these technologies have fairly low cost and are used in areas around the world. Some common treatments used in the developing world include chlorination, filtration and solar disinfection. With many treatment options available, there is no one-size-fits-all solution."

The nonprofit Global Health and Education Foundation in San Francisco provided money for the project. Almost one hundred thirty science, engineering and medical academies worldwide are also involved. These organizations will share information about the new Web resource with policy makers in their countries.

Also, ten thousand free copies of DVD versions of the information will go to nongovernmental groups working to improve water quality.

Organizers say the Web site is meant to provide international decision makers with technical answers to drinking water problems. The information will help users learn about the causes of unsafe drinking water and technologies that can improve water quality.

The site also has world maps that show the levels of availability of safe drinking water from country to country. Users can compare information from nineteen seventy and two thousand two.

Peter Glick is a member of the scientific committee that developed the Web site. He says the failure of the world to meet basic human needs for water is a crisis that can be solved. He says education is central, and the hope is that this new Internet tool can be part of the solution.

And that's the VOA Special English Development Report, written by Jill Moss. For a link to the site, at, go to I'm Steve Ember.