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World Water Day: making every drop count.

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AA 03 014 20 Mar 2003

World Water Day: Making every drop count

In the lead-up to World Water Day (Saturday 22 March 2003) I am pleased to announce the launch of Making every drop count, Australia's water aid policy.

Making every drop count sets out how the Australian Government will help address water challenges facing developing nations, particularly in the Asia-Pacific.

In our immediate region 2 billion people do not have hygienic sanitation and around 700 million do not have access to safe drinking water.

Globally, some 1.1 billion cannot access clean water, 2.4 billion live without decent sanitation and an estimated 10,000 people, the majority children or infants, die each day from water-related illness. It is the poor that suffer most.

Water is essential for health, food production and poverty reduction. Over the past century, the world's population has tripled and water use has increased six-fold. As demand for water increases, so does the potential for tension between users within and between countries, which has implications for stability in our region.

These are good reasons why our aid program is strengthening its focus on water issues.

Australia is well placed to take a leadership role in helping our developing country partners to build their capacity to manage and plan water resources. Our expertise comes from our own experience as inhabitants of a dry continent and from decades of water management work in developing countries.

Australia is undertaking water programs across our region, and today I am pleased to announce two new major initiatives:

A seven year, $43 million water supply and sanitation reform program focused on north-eastern India. The program will be implemented in partnership with the World Bank and will initially benefit an estimated 400,000 people.

An integrated water management project assisting some 300,000 people on Vam Nao island in Vietnam's Mekong Delta, to which Australia will commit $19.5 million and the Vietnamese government $18.4 million

Australia will also provide $1 million funding for a new Australian Water Research Facility to undertake research on water issues in the Asia- Pacific.

A further $1 million will make Australian experts available for World Bank water programs.

Contacts: Chris Kenny (Minister's office) (02) 6277 7500 or 0419 206 890 Jo Elsom (AusAID) (02) 6206 4960 or 0412 804 489