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Tajik leader calls on UN for urgent assistance on water-related issues

Tajik leader calls on UN for urgent assistance on water-related issues

Emomali Rahmon, President of the Republic of Tajikistan
The leader of Tajikistan today called on the General Assembly to take urgent action to boost the supply of water to meet development challenges.

“It is quite obvious that water is irreplaceable because it is needed not only for sustaining human lives but also for industrial purposes, environmental protection and the entire development process,” President Emomali Rahmon said at the start of the third day of the Assembly’s annual high-level debate.

He noted that international cooperation is essential to meet the targets set for the 2005-2015 “Water for Life” campaign proclaimed by the Assembly – which include coping with water scarcity and pollution; sanitation, safe drinking water and health; transboundary water issues; and disaster risk reduction.

“Despite numerous water events held the world over at different levels in recent years, the water issue remains urgent,” the President said.

To this end, he urged the Assembly to convene a special session to review steps taken towards meeting water-related goals and identify what steps can be taken to accelerate progress.

Mr. Rahmon invited Member States to attend the upcoming UN-backed World Water Forum to be held in his country’s capital, Dushanbe, in 2010.

Tajikistan understands first-hand the importance of the issue, having experienced the climate change-induced shrinking of its glaciers by nearly one-third.

Furthermore, three consecutive years of low water levels in its rivers have resulted in social and economic problems due to drought and locust invasions.

“Without implementing hydropower projects our country will not be able to achieve the MDGs, or ensure sustainable growth, which was vividly proved by the unprecedented severe winter of the last year that revealed all the difficulties of the transitional period,” the President said.

“The forthcoming winter and summer are expected to be even more challenging.”

In a related development, the UN today launched an appeal for nearly $35 million to provide a temporary food safety net for 800,000 of the most vulnerable people in Tajikistan until the end of next year.

It is estimated that a further 1.3 million people, out of a total population of nearly 7 million, are in danger of going hungry due to reduced agricultural output and the global food crisis.

The Central Asian nation experienced its most severe winter in over four decades, with drought and locust infestations threatening the supply of food for many.

“Despite good economic growth over the past years in Tajikistan, the food security situation for the most vulnerable groups has been deteriorating, and it requires urgent humanitarian assistance from the international community,” said Michael Jones, UN Resident Coordinator in the country.

The appeal seeks to provide both short- and long-term relief though food and cash assistance, as well as boosting infrastructure and the agriculture sector.