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Water scarcity a global concern that Australians now share: Australian Red Cross

Thursday March 22, 2007

Australians are now valuing their supplies of fresh water and treating this precious resource with the respect it truly deserves- but we are still better off than many of our neighbours.

'Australians are seeing the effects of an extended period of drought and this is impacting on our activities every day now' said Robert Tickner, CEO Australian Red Cross. 'This is an extremely difficult time for many, many Australians.'

'But unfortunately, we are still significantly better off than our neighbours in the Asia Pacific where water scarcity has been a fact of life for generations.'

Speaking on World Water Day, Mr Tickner said 'Australians are now more aware than ever before of the challenges presented by limited water supplies. However it is also important that we are aware that other nations in the Asia Pacific region are not as fortunate as ourselves and many struggle to ensure fresh, constant water supplies for their populations.'

Australian Red Cross funds and implements water and sanitation programs across the Asia Pacific region and many other countries around the world.

'From constructing new freshwater wells in East Timor to re-establishing water supplies in the earthquake and tsunami-ravaged areas of Pakistan and Indonesia, Australian Red Cross has been involved in helping the world's vulnerable people gain access to safe drinking water and better sanitation facilities' said Mr Tickner.

'Coping with Water Scarcity' is the theme for World Water Day 2007, which is celebrated each year on 22 March. This year's theme highlights the increasing significance of water scarcity worldwide and the need for increased integration and cooperation to ensure sustainable, efficient and equitable management of scarce water resources, both at international and local levels.

World Water Day is an initiative that grew out of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro. Previous World Water Days have focused on water for disasters, water and culture, and water for the future.

'This World Water Day, we are asking that Australians do not forget those who have faced the same challenging conditions we are facing now- but every day, of every week, of every year, for generations' Mr Tickner said.

'Water scarcity truly is a global problem- and only when we can accept that will we be able to move towards a solution for all.'