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Access to safe water in S Asia crucial to people's health: Experts

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By Lalit K Jha

Washington, Oct 26 (PTI) Access to safe water in South Asian countries like India and Bangladesh is crucial to people's health in particular to cutting down water-borne diseases in the region, experts have said.

"The fact is that when you purify the water that's being distributed to the population, you immediately cut down on the water-borne disease," Rita Colwell, Stockholm and Singapore Water Prizes' Laureate, former Director of the National Science Foundation said Wednesday at an event organised by Safe Water Network.

India is suffering from "the worst water crisis" in its history with about 60 crore people facing high to extreme water stress and about two lakh people dying every year due to inadequate access to safe water, Niti Aayog said in a report in June.

"I have found in all the years of my work, including in places like India and Bangladesh that people are very much the same – they love their families, they want their children to be healthy and educated, and they want to be able to contribute to society," Colwell said in her address to the event which was attended by key stakeholders from the water sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector, along with the private organisations and government.

Co-founded in 2006 by the late actor and philanthropist Paul Newman, along with prominent civic and business leaders, Safe Water Network is working to enabling water provision to small towns and peri-urban communities globally as a complementary solution to hand pumps and utilities.

"Safe Water Network is beginning to put together this web in various parts of the world through collaborations to address this huge problem," Colwell said.

This crisis is being addressed in innovative ways in water-stressed countries such as India, in close partnership with state governments of Telangana, Maharashtra and policy bodies such as Niti Aayog, Safe Water said in a statement.

Safe Water Network currently operates more than 250 small water enterprises across four states (Telangana, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh) in India.

Nearly 100 million people in India lack access to safe water, the US-based Safe Water Network has said.

Vivek Sankaran, president and COO of Frito-Lay North America, said Safe Water Network is leading advances in the sector with the help of strategic collaborations.

"Safe water unleashes lives. The big idea is to collaborate with others within and outside the sector to make a difference in the communities we serve. Partnerships with companies like PepsiCo, Pentair and Honeywell have helped us catalyse the sector," he said.

The work of Safe Water Network is focused on the challenge of bringing safe water to two billion people in need, said its CEO Kurt Soderlund.

"We believe very sincerely that this large, complex global problem is solvable. The need of the hour is to encourage collaboration among implementers, tap into private sector capability, draw in development agencies and other stakeholders," he said. PTI LKJ AMS AKJ AMS AMS AMS

Disclaimer: This story has not been edited by BW staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.

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