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Water for the poorest

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This paper reports on a United Nations conference held in Norway, November 2003, in support of the 12th session of the Commission for Sustainable Development. The conference focused on the plight of the world’s poorest, with particular focus on access to safe water supply and sanitation facilities in reaching the Millennium Development Goals.The highlights of the conference included:effective development and management of water resources and efficient and equitable provision of water supply and sanitation services are essential for poverty reduction, ecosystem protection and sustainable growthsound water resources management has become more urgent as water becomes scarcer, its quality declines, environmental and social concerns mount, and the threats posed by floods and droughts are made worse by climate changeit is the poorest that suffer most from inadequate water and sanitation servicesclean water is essential for human health and survival. Safe drinking water, adequate sanitation and hygienic practices like hand washing are a precondition for human health and for overall reductions in malnutrition, morbidity and mortality, especially among childrenaccess to clean water and sanitation services is critical to sustainable development, including environmental protection and food securitywater resources are a common good to be controlled by governments on behalf of their citizens. National governments should be accountable for providing access to water and sanitation to all of their citizens.adapted from author]