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Experts meet to discuss water scarcity issues at the fifth World Water Forum

NEW YORK, 19 March 2009 – UNICEF will raise the need to provide life-saving water and sanitation support to children, particularly during emergencies, at a major international conference on water being held from 16 - 22 March, in Istanbul.

Access to clean water and sanitation are a major concern for UNICEF. Some 5000 children die every day as a result of diarrheal diseases, most of which are waterborne.

At the 5th World Water Forum experts from around the world are expected to share information and propose new approaches for the sustainable use of water resources.

UNICEF co-convened two sessions:

(i) Consistent monitoring to track progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDG's) and beyond: To improve monitoring and data collection on access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation which is essential for tracking progress towards the MDG;

(ii) Taking WASH in schools to scale: Exploring ways to scale up existing water, sanitation and hygiene programmes in schools, emphasizing the importance of child-friendly schools to ensure a conducive learning environment. Advocacy and partnerships are fundamental to this process.

UNICEF is also contributing to two sessions which will further the complex discussion on the right to water and sanitation, including the right to water during times of emergency.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child commits us all to ensure that children have the highest attainable standard of health. This cannot be achieved unless children have access to safe water and sanitation and live in a hygienic environment.

UNICEF’s is firmly committed to achieving the Millennium Development Goal target for water and sanitation - to halve, by 2015, the proportion of people living without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation. This target is integrally linked to other Millennium Goals, including health, education, poverty and hunger eradication, empowerment of women, and disease reduction.

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For further information, please contact:
Saira Saeed Khan, UNICEF Media, Tel + 212-326-7224, Email sskhan@unicef.org




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