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UN report: climate change to exacerbate freshwater problems of Pacific Islands April 23,2012   |  Source: UN News Centre

Climate change will exacerbate water stress in Pacific Islands, particularly small islands that rely on seasonal rain for their freshwater needs, according to a United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report, issued in Bangkok, Thailand, today.

“The challenges facing the region in terms of freshwater resources are immense. Many of these islands have limited water resources, not to mention human, financial and management resources,” said the Regional Director of UNEP’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Dr. Park Young-Woo. “It is imperative that we improve water use efficiency to meet the basic human needs and to support sustainable development.”

The report, “Freshwater under Threat – Pacific Islands,” found that the almost total reliance on rain-fed agriculture across all islands puts economies and livelihoods at risk.

Nearly 10 per cent of deaths of children under five in the region is attributable to water related causes; and, 90 per cent of these deaths, according to the report, can be traced to poor sanitation treatment systems.

The delivery of water supplies and sanitation services in many Pacific countries currently falls well short of the targets outlined by the Millennium Development Goal (MDG), the globally agreed blueprint for

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