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March 22, 2011 (Gambella) — This week marks World Water Day, and I am personally endorsing a report by Gambellan state water resource and energy resources and calls for our political leaders to work more closely with Gambella community to develop answers to the clean water for all.

Some 67 of the 125 safe water projects being constructed in Gambella state at a cost of over 25 million Birr have already begun services recently, Didmu Adar, the head of state water resource and energy bureau said.

The projects include, among others, digging of 56 deep and medium-scale water wells and development of 11 springs.

Construction of the projects will enable to increase the coverage of water in the state to 80 percent from the current 63 percent.

The head said the remaining safe water projects would be completed in the coming two months. Over 39,000 people have get access to safe water service from the completed projects.

Water is essential for life. Safe, abundant water is vital to our ability to prosper and fulfill our potential. Without it, we face a continual decline in our well-being.

Across Gambella State, a third have no access to clean water, and almost two thirds no access to clean sanitation, causing widespread suffering from malaria, typhoid, dysentery and many other diseases. Apart from this effect upon our health, the loss of productivity that results from water-related illnesses holds back our progress.

Gambella population is growing rapidly each year, averaging 2.5% across the state , but the lack of safe water and sanitation reduces our economic growth at twice that rate. And a growing population must be properly fed.

We need to increase our water production by half in the next five years. How will we achieve this without reducing the amount and quality of the remaining water resources which we will need for drinking and sanitation? Clearly, the provision of sustainable, clean water for our people should be  high priority.

Sustainable supplies of water, its better management and protection are the key to this success - just as increased agricultural productivity holds the key to spreading prosperity and our other development goals.

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