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Swiss push for better water management

Delegates agreed to try and improve access to clean water in poor countries, like for these children in Cambodia Keystone Archive

Switzerland has joined other nations in voicing concerns about the declining quality of water at an international conference in Bonn.

This content was published on December 7, 2001 - 18:43

At the end of the meeting on Friday, delegates called on governments to establish plans for water resources by 2005, but also to apply the tenets of the United Nations Millennium Declaration.

This text demands proper worldwide management of natural resources. The conference focused its attention mainly on drinking water, but it also took a stand on sanitation issues.

"We wanted more weight to be given to sanitation and hygiene education abroad," said Armand Hartmann, a water expert at the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. "We also wanted poorer nations' problems to have a higher priority."

The meeting also tackled the issue of corruption when dealing with water resources.

"We agreed this was a serious problem that makes our work more difficult," Hartmann told swissinfo. "We need to find ways of fighting corruption by deciding on a clear approach to the problem.

"There are two types of corruption: international firms trying to win big contracts, and petty corruption that occurs throughout many countries."

Corruption has a major effect on the distribution of water resources. "With corruption, its far more difficult to get water to the poor," Hartmann told swissinfo, "because there is no financial advantage to be gained by supplying them with water."

swissinfo

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