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* Time for Sri Lanka to focus on water quality, Says UNICEF
Fri, Mar 21, 2014, 12:45 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Mar 21, Colombo: Although 84 percent of Sri Lankans have access to improved water sources, Sri Lanka needs to focus on improving the quality of drinking water, the UNICEF said today marking the United Nations' annual World Water Day that falls on March 22.

Almost four years after the world met the global target set in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for safe drinking water, and after the UN General Assembly declared that water was a human right, the key issue now, according to UNICEF is how efforts can be strengthened to ensure safe water for all Sri Lankans.

Currently, 84 percent of Sri Lankans can access improved water sources, the UNICEF says.

"While we are impressed with the national figures of over 80%, we remain concerned about vulnerable groups of children and their families who do not have access to water, as well as water safety in general," said UNICEF's Representative to Sri Lanka, Ms. Una McCauley.

"This is why we support national authorities to increase access in schools and remote rural areas and also support national efforts to improve water quality," she added.

Globally, estimates from UNICEF and WHO published in 2013 show that a staggering 768 million people do not have access to safe drinking water, causing hundreds of thousands of children to sicken and die each year. Most of the people without access are poor and live in remote rural areas or urban slums.

UNICEF says it believes that consumer demand and quality assurance systems need to be in place to ensure critical water quality parameters, especially in an age where globally and locally, industrial and agricultural water pollution, along with climate change, continue to be key issues.

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