International Herald Tribune
WASHINGTON: Water and sanitation deficits affect about 50 percent of all people in the developingworld and lead to the deaths of 1.8 million children each year, a United Nations water expert saidWednesday.Cecilia Ugaz, a high official of the U.N. Development Program, told a House of RepresentativesForeign Affairs subcommittee briefing that there are huge inequalities between rich and poor in termsof access to water."Water pricing reflects a simple perverse principle: the poorer you are, the more you pay," Ugaz said.She the said water crisis in developing can be solved provided that governments in affected countriesand international assistance efforts address the issue more energetically. "Make water a human rightand mean it. Every person should have access to at least 20 litters of clean water a day," she said.Rep. Donald Payne, a Democrat and chairman of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Africa,said the number of people without access to water has increased by 60 million since 2004, and hewarned that water shortages can lead to violence as groups compete for scarce supplies.Payne noted that President George W. Bush's 2008 budget request calls for a cut in water programs insub-Saharan Africa. "We can't meet U.N. development goals at the rate we are going," he said.Rep. Earl Blumenauer, also a Democrat, said the administration has declined to implement seriously2005 legislation to enhance U.S. water availability worldwide, of which he was the main proponent.Last year, he said, only $70 million (€51.5 million) was budgeted for non-emergency water andsanitation in developing countries, Of this, he said, only $10 million (€7.37 million) was earmarked forsub-Saharan Africa, the region most in need."I find it shocking, I find it incomprehensible," Blumenauer said, accusing the State Department ofignoring the spirit of the legislation.Claudia McMurray, a top State Department official who is responsible for water issues, testified thatthe United States cannot be expected to solve global water problems all by itself."Local and national governments have to take primary responsibility," she said, adding that the UnitedStates can contribute the most toward solving the issue by developing capacity.
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