Thursday, October 14, 2004

Access To Drinking Water For All By 2025 - World Bank Commentary

Source: World Bank

Access To Drinking Water For All By 2025 Is Not Utopic. In an interview in Le Figaro (France), Michel Camdessus, former general manager of the IMF, and today one of the leading specialists on water, explains that in a forthcoming book he and other experts draw up a damning picture of the current state of the planet’s water resources, while, at the same time, conveying a message of hope. According to the authors, it is possible to provide drinking water for all.

Camdessus explains that ten thousand people – half of whom are children – die every day of water-borne diseases. Lack or bad quality of water have extremely serious consequences on health, poverty and education (in particular in Africa, where million girls give up school to help their mother collect water for the family...). However, Camdessus refuses to give in to fatalism, and affirms that the issue of water can be solved by 2025. In 2000, the United Nations committed to reducing by half the number of people deprived of drinking water by 2015. Since then, a global working group dealing with issues pertaining to the financing of water infrastructure, chaired by Camdessus, was created. “If the world continue its efforts towards water until 2025, drinking water can be made accessible to all,” he says.

"To achieve this, we must decentralize the methods of governance and financing currently applied to water management,” Camdessus explains. “The decision-making power should not be given to technocrats but to those who live with water shortages on a daily basis. By this, I especially mean the women in the villages of Africa or Asia, who devote several hours each day to fetching water from a well or a river. They should be given the means to express their opinion on the measures to take: where a source should be located, how it should be managed, etc.” He goes on to say that with regard to the financing and control of projects, it is essential to mobilize funds while encouraging private initiatives on a local scale. To achieve this, the World Bank and local banks must grant guarantees to private investors, in particular in the event of a depreciation of a national currency, which often happens in countries experiencing water problems, he says.