links about us archives search home
SustainabiliTankSustainabilitank menu graphic

Follow us on Twitter


Posted on on March 20th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Press Conference at the UN

World Water Day

Monday, 22 March, 2010
12:30 p.m.
Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium

H.E. President of the UN General Assembly , H.E. Prime Minister of Tajikistan

H.E. Jan Eliasson
Chair of WaterAid Sweden, Former President of the UN General Assembly,
Former Foreign Minister of Sweden

With almost 884 million people lacking access to safe drinking water, and over 2.6 billion people, or almost 39 per cent of the world’s population, living without improved sanitation facilities, the issue of water is critical for tackling today’s challenges related to health, food security, and sustainable development.

To promote the International Decade for Action, “Water for Life 2005 – 2015”, the United Nations General Assembly is holding a special high-level interactive dialogue on water and its implications for the Millennium Development Goals, climate change, disasters, peace and security.

This high-level dialogue provides an important input to the preparatory process for the Summit on the Millennium Development Goals to be held on 20-22 September 2010, and feeds into the High-Level International Conference on water to be hosted by Tajikistan in June 2010.

General Assembly President Ali Treki, General Assembly President Ali Treki, Prime Minister Oqilov, and WaterAid Sweden Chair Jan Eliasson will brief the press on the significance of water-related issues and highlight the urgent need for action to fulfill international commitments on water by 2015.


The problem with the above press conference, which is part of the daily UN Spokesperson’s Briefing to the Press, is that the UN General Assembly President is Ali Treki, the Foreign Minister of Libya who was declared practically non-person by the Schengen countries, so he is unwelcome to Europe {a President of the UNGA – mind you – no less}, and Oqil Ghaybulloyevich Oqilov, Prime Minister of Tajikistan, just recently host to Ahmedi-Nejad of Iran,  and whose country is turning  into a pro-Iranian satellite. The fact that the UN water conference will be held in Tajikistan must have to do something with the push for legitimization by some of the world’s less palatable regimes.

That leaves the Honorable Jan Eliason, a friend from the days he served at the UN, and a friend of humanity, the only person worthwhile on that UN panel. We say this with full knowledge that water and climate change are indeed main problems for Libya and Tajikistan, but we just do not believe that the other two speakers on that dais have shown politically real interest in this topic.

We are curious what journalists will show up and how far can questioning be allowed by the UN,  and by the UN General Assembly,  Spokesmen.


Monday 04 January 2010
President Ahmadinejad lays wreath at Ismail Samani’s statue

Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad laid wreath at the statue of Ismail Samani a former king here on Monday.
President Ahmadinejad arrived in Dushanbe Monday morning for a two-day stay in Tajikistan.

After welcome ceremony held by Tajikistan’s Prime Minister Oqil Oqilov, Ahmadinejad started talks with his Tajik counterpart Imomali Rakhmon.

During the talks, the two presidents signed three memoranda of understanding, two documents on cooperation and a statement on expansion of bilateral relations.

Later in the day, Ahmadinejad is planned to deliver speech to a group of resident Iranians at Ibn Sina Hospital, built by Iran’s private sector in the country. He is also due to inaugurate an Iranology center in the Tajikistan’s medical university.


Saturday 09 January 2010
President Ahmadinejad ends Central Asian tour

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad left Turkmenistan for Iran Wednesday afternoon at the end of his two-nation tour to the Central Asia region.

The Iranian president was officially seen off by his Turkmen counterpart Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov.

He was in Turkmenistan to attend the inaugural ceremony of the first phase of Iran-Turkmenistan’s second gas pipeline project.

The 182-km pipeline was inaugurated by the Iranian and Turkmen presidents earlier on Wednesday.

President Ahmadinejad was in the region on a three-day visit which had brought him earlier to Tajikistan.

He discussed major bilateral, regional and international developments with senior Tajik and Turkmen officials.

A number of agreements were also signed by Iranian officials and their Tajik and Turkmen counterparts for promotion of bilateral cooperation between Tehran and the two Central Asian capitals.


Saturday 09 January 2010
President Ahmadinejad returns home

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad concluded his two-nation tour to the Central Asian region and arrived in Tehran on Wednesday afternoon.

Upon his arrival, the Iranian president was welcomed by Supreme Leader’s Advisor for International Affairs Ali Akbar Velayati, 1st Vice-President Mohammad Reza Rahimi as well as a number of high ranking officials and ministers.

Speaking to reporters at the airport, President Ahmadinejad described his visits to Tajikistan and Turkmenistan as very fruitful and promising.

He discussed major bilateral, regional and international developments with senior Tajik and Turkmen officials.

A number of agreements were also signed by Iranian officials and their Tajik and Turkmen counterparts for promotion of bilateral cooperation between Tehran and the two Central Asian capital cities.


Saturday 09 January 2010
World’s fate to be decided in Middle East.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said here Thursday that world’s destiny will be decided in the Middle East.

“Iran and Syria should in a joint mission establish new world order based on monotheism, justice and humanity,” President Ahmadinejad told Syrian parliament Speaker Mahmoud al-Abrash.

He said the world is on verge of big developments and the tyrannical systems are fading.

“Iran and Syria shoulder a crucial role in present juncture and their cooperation should further expand,” he added.

The 30-year resistance of Iran and Syria is almost close to the victory stage, said the President, adding, “Resistance of nations, including Iran and Syria, has thwarted all the conspiracies of the imperialistic system in the political, economic, military and ideological domains.”

The President went on to say that construction of the wall of separation in the occupied lands and of the steel war in Gaza all show the Zionist regime’s vulnerability. “The US government too will have to end up its interventions in the region and get its forces out of there.”

Al-Abrash said in return that expansion of relations and cooperation among Muslim states, including Iran and Syria, has nullified enemy conspiracies.
He said that Iran and Syria will as before move in the front of perseverance and campaign against global arrogance.


For more information and the full programme of the day, please see:

Jonathan Rich, WaterAid, Tel.: +1 347 262 9115, Email:  jonathan at


Let the clean water flow

By CAROLINE BOIN, The Japan Times online, Saturday, March 20, 2010

LONDON — The 18th annual World Water Day (March 22) offers the same old problems and rejects the practical solutions. On Monday, 1 billion people will, as usual, spend the day without clean water and a third of humanity without adequate sanitation. As usual, some 3.5 million men, women and children will die from related diseases this year. Yet many nongovernment organizations and politicians still prefer ideology to ideas, spurning what the private sector delivers to the world’s poor.

Activists often claim to be defending the poor from profit-maximizing corporations. But this has more to do with dogma than reality. Given that less than 10 percent of world water management is private, it is hard to see how they can blame corporations for poor supply.

In fact, it is governments that mismanage water and misallocate it to political cronies and powerful lobbies such as farmers. The poor, in rural areas or slums, are left unconnected and unable to do much about it. Anti-privatization groups keep repeating that water should be provided by government but ignore that government has been the worst enemy of the poor.

On another tack, the World Development Movement and similar groups claim that the private sector has done little for the poor, having connected only three million people in developing countries over the past 15 years. But this figure excludes Latin America and Southeast Asia where private water management — and the number of people getting water — has boomed since the 1990s. In Argentina, for example, privately managed areas got lower water prices, more connections and a drop in infectious diseases and child deaths.

Activists have further misrepresented private supply by focusing on multinationals while ignoring the small-scale water vendors who get water to people whom governments have abandoned. In many African cities, they sell plastic water sachets to passersby, while in Paraguay 500 aguateros supply nearly half a million people using tankers and piped water.

A World Bank researcher found in 1998 that “in most cities in developing countries, more than half the population gets basic water service from suppliers other than the incumbent official utility.” Country surveys suggest that the situation has changed little since then.

The World Health Organization, like activists, disregards these “informal” water vendors, bottled water and tankers. It refuses to consider them as “improved water sources” as they are unregulated, unpredictable and allegedly incapable of serving a mass market.

But to the hundreds of millions of people who rely on them, there is nothing incapable about private water providers. For many, they are the difference between life and death.

Informal water vendors come in all types, but they all provide water for profit. Their clients are among the most poorly prepared to pay to protect their families from disease and to put their time to better use than searching for clean water.

The success of these private water services throughout Latin America, Africa and Asia disproves the claim that the poor are too poor to pay for water and that the private sector has no incentive to serve them. In fact, the poor often pay more for water than those in prosperous areas with “formal” supplies. A World Bank survey of South American cities found that, on average, trucked water costs four to 10 times more than the public network’s price. In Kibera, the Nairobi slum of about 1 million people, jerry-can water sells at four times the average price in Kenya.

Activists who accuse the private sector of putting profits before people should realize three things. First, water vendors would stop providing water and sanitation if they did not make a profit. Second, governments are largely to blame for the higher prices because they constrain or outlaw private supply. Finally, people buy from vendors willingly, often with a choice of suppliers.

Water is severely under-priced in China, at around a third of the world average. As a consequence 300 million rural people have no safe drinking water. Where vendors do operate, people are prepared to pay up to 10 times the connected cost.

The theme of this year’s World Water Day is quality, so legalizing the work of water vendors should be a priority. They could then own sources, land and infrastructure, get credit and expand operations, serving more people at cheaper rates with cleaner water. It is these small-scale ventures — not empty government promises — that can quickly improve water supplies for the poor.

Caroline Boin is a project director at International Policy Network, London, which focuses on economic development.
Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a comment for this article