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Monday, March 24, 2003

The World Water Forum in Kyoto has just finished after spending a week discussing how to provide clean water + basic sanitation to the 1.2 billion people who currently lack what most of us can take for granted...

Key stories from the last week include:

* Former USSR president Mikhail Gorbachev telling the forum that a failure to reverse the global water crisis could lead to "real conflicts" in the future.

* The role of community projects and the need to revert to the use of human solid waste as compost and fertiliser and allowing liquids to drain into the ground rather than trying to provide "wasteful" flushing toilets.

* The ideological battle between those who want to drive through change via water privatisation and those that don't.

* The need for good water governance to include ethical leadership that focuses on the interests of poor communities, reliable information on technologies + financing options for the poor.

* The pooling of donor funds by African nations in order to better tackle water problems.

* The role of agriculture in enhancing water efficiency.

Unfortunately, the Forum's final declaration has been denounced as bland + vague (for leaving out references to access to water being a right, for failing to prioritise the protection of fresh water ecosystems + for failing to call for a global watchdog to monitor progress made towards the UN goal of halving to one billion the number of people without access to water and sanitation by 2015).

These significant failures have understandably left the event open to charges of it having been a giant talking shop...

See the BBC's excellent coverage for more stories and visit Water Aid's site if you want to find out more detail about what can be done...

P.S. One of the World's best kept secrets is that March 23rd was World Water Day!

P.P.S. Fortunately, it is never to late to find out what needs to be done in order to stop 2,000,000 people a year dying from water related diseases.