WWF and UNICEF work to conserve freshwater in India

WWF and UNICEF work to conserve freshwater in India

10 May 1998

Organizations work to save freshwater in India

[24 April 1998]. Two organizations have committed to work together to promote conservation and sustainable community management of freshwater resources in India. The World Wide Fund For Nature and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding that commits the two organizations to seek solutions to what they believe is an emerging global freshwater crisis.

WWF and UNICEF recently released a report titled "Fresh Water for India's Children and Nature," after a two-year study of local watersheds in five eco-regions of India. The research and resulting recommendations are an element in the evolution of India's national water policy, which is aimed at providing safe drinking water for millions and the rehabilitation of degraded freshwater ecosystems.

The program comes as a follow up to the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro where the world's governments, working under the Commission on Sustainable Development, negotiated an action plan on freshwater resources.

A workshop this January in New Delhi, organized by UNICEF and WWF to discuss the draft report, received full participation from six major ministries of the Indian government and from leading non-governmental organizations, academic institutions and other Indian leaders.

The memorandum was signed by Dr Claude Martin, director General of WWF, and Dr. Sadig Rasheed, director of the Program Division of UNICEF. "The India experience has inspired both WWF and UNICEF to engage in a global partnership," said Martin. "This is an open partnership. The more countries and governments (that) join in, the better we shall be able to manage fresh water resources. Greater fresh water security means less suffering for women and children."

"The crisis in freshwater is a crisis for children," said Rasheed. "Every year more than 2 million children under the age of five die as a result of unsafe water and poor environmental sanitation. To reduce this awful toll, UNICEF works to help communities protect and manage their water resources and environment. Partnerships like this are essential in the effort."

To carry out the programs, UNICEF and WWF are seeking partnerships with other organizations, including inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations, development banks, the private sector, donors and the scientific and academic communities.

-- For more information, please contact Stephen Rose, UNICEF, (212)326-7506. (Source: Environmental News Network, 1998)