U.S. Water News Online
UNITED NATIONS -- Around the world, ensuring adequate
of fresh water is becoming a major problem because of growing population, urbanization,
and environmental degradation, said United Nations officials who are
hoping to draw attention to this problem at the upcoming U.N. Conference
on Human Settlements to be held June 3-4 in Istanbul, Turkey.
In China, government figures show 300 cities suffer serious
shortages. And in Nairobi, Kenya, enough water is lost through leakage or
theft to supply the nation's second largest city.
"I suspect that in the next 50 years, we will see a shift
from oil to water as the cause of great conflicts between nations and peoples,"
said Wally N'Dow, secretary-general of the Istanbul conference. "The economic
and human costs of inadequate supplies of water is tremendous," he said.
N' Dow said the effects of inadequate water supplies are felt
most strongly in the developing world, where an estimated 20 percent of urban
families buy water from vendors because they have no access to municipal systems.
In Khartoum, Sudan, for example, families with access to the city
water system pay about $2.60 a month for service. Khartoum families that buy
from vendors, who deliver sacks of water by donkey, pay an average of $16 a
Poor water supplies also take an enormous toll on public
The United Nations estimates that only 5 percent of the wastes generated
in cities worldwide is chemically treated before it is dumped into rivers
or on the ground.
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