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Nation to Secure Safe Drinking Water
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China will secure safe drinking water for 267 million rural residents by 2012, three years ahead of the schedule required by the UN's Millennium Declaration, made in 2000.


The country will also exceed the declaration's requirement by helping 70 percent of people in need.


The declaration called for the world to halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and sanitation.


"In the coming 10 years or so, China will accelerate efforts to secure access to clean water supplies for everyone, a hard challenge for us," a leading water official said.


Addressing a high-level roundtable meeting sponsored by the Global Water Partnership (GWP), Wang Shucheng, minister of water resources, made it clear that the government would do its best to achieve the goal.


Under his plan, up to 100 million rural people will have access to clean drinking water within the next five years.


"During that period, work will be carried out to improve water quality for drinking water with a high content of fluoride, arsenic, salt and other environmental pollutants," he said.


"And by 2012, up to 267 million rural residents, whose lives have been hit by sub-standard drinking water, will have clean water, which will also help with waterborne diseases."


The number includes 67 million rural people that were provided with clean drinking water between 2000-05, when thousands of new water processing facilities went into operation.


"It means that we will have secured clean water to 70 per cent of China's total rural people without access to safe drinking water and sanitation three years earlier than the goal set by the UN in 2000, and we will have exceeded the requirement to cut by half the number of people with problems," he said.


"China's water challenges are inspiring for the whole world because what you do here will have a profound effect on the sustainability of life on our planet, where water is so crucial for human life," said Khalid Mohtadullah, a senior advisory of GWP.


Globally 1.8 million people die every year from diarrhoea-related diseases.


Around 88 per cent of diarrhoea is attributed to unsafe water supplies, and inadequate sanitation and hygiene, he said.


(China Daily June 10, 2006)

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