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African economies losing productivity ...

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....through contaminated water consumption Ho, April 25, GNA - Productivity losses to African economies annually due to consumption of contaminated water is estimated at 32 billion dollars, Alhaji Mustapha Ali Idris, Minister of Works and Housing said on Saturday.

A further 20 billion dollars is lost annually to the treatment of diseases caused by drinking unsafe water, poor sanitation and unhygienic practices.

Alhaji Idris, who made the revelation at a media encounter on water sector reforms in Ho on Saturday, said cholera epidemics in Africa were increasing frequently according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) reports.

"Indeed, in 1999, a total of 187,545 cholera cases and 8,051 deaths were officially reported".

He said statistics show that about 155 children in Africa die every hour from water, sanitation and hygiene related diseases. Alhaji Idris said the WHO estimated that 2,000 million people worldwide were at risk from water-borne and food-borne diarrhoeal diseases, which are the main causes of nearly four million child deaths annually.

He said it was thus imperative that government mobilised a whole range of resources in a Public Private Partnership (PPP) for sustained development of the Water and Sanitation Sector (WSS). The Minister said private sector in water delivery had become a dominant feature of reform processes of African countries as it had been recognised as a viable alternative to public service delivery and financial autonomy.

"The evidence emerging from a number of countries is that the PPP's are driving greater efficiencies in water and sanitation delivery. Alhaji Idris therefore commended Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC), Legon Centre for International Affairs (LECIA), Centre for Democratic Development (CDD), Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) and others for their immense contributions and criticisms which spurred government on to reconsider some of its earlier decision on the subject matter.

He said based on this, work would commence in September, this year, on a 135 million-dollar massive water improvement project to ease chronic shortages and improve services in the country over a five-year period.

"Beside ensuring increased, regular and stable supply to the poor, the project has the potential to boost commercial and industrial activities, particularly, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverage manufacturers and small-scale industries. 25 Apr. 04

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