UNESCO chief highlights importance of water quality

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UNESCO chief Irina Bokova on Monday highlighted the importance of water quality to the future of the human race on the occasion of this year's World Water Day.

Bokova, director-general of the Paris-based United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), said clean water and proper sanitation are basic needs for the next generation.

Bokova said a key approach to addressing water quality challenges should be based on pollution prevention, control and restoration strategies.

Numerous rivers are now heavily polluted, while water-related sickness and the additional financial hardships it brings lower the odds that a poor family will educate its children, robbing the next generation of the opportunity to improve their own circumstances, she noted.

To mark the World Water Day 2010, Bokova called on the international community to enhance scientific research to protect surface waters and groundwater systems and ensure better water management.

According to UNESCO, an estimated 884 million people, most in Africa, do not have access to safe drinking water, while some 1.5 million children under five die each year from sickness caused by water-borne diseases.

UN data projected that achieving the Millennium Development Goals for access to safe water and sanitation would produce a global saving of more than 84 billion U.S. dollars.

The annual global observance of the World Water Day is an initiative that grew out of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development that was held in Rio de Janeiro.

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