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French Version

Water management conference gets under way in Jordan

Hundreds of delegates gathered on the shores of the Dead Sea Monday for a second day of talks on dwindling world water resources amid calls by experts for a collective management effort.

The five-day conference organized by the Jordanian Water and Agriculture Ministry and the US Agency for International Development was formally opened Sunday by King Abdullah II.

Organizers said that more than 1,200 participants from 32 countries were attending the conference but an AFP correspondent said only about 500 delegates were present in the Shuneh resort on the shores of the Dead Sea.

"Capital investment in developing water supplies is expected to increase to around $45 billion by the year 2025 compared to $20 billion now," in the Arab countries, Jordanian Water and Agriculture Minister Hazem Nasser said Sunday.

Nasser said this increase cannot be met by many countries in the area and called for regional cooperation to control water consumption, citing Jordan's own experience in managing its meager water resources.

Jordan, which ranks among the world's 10 poorest in water, plans to reduce household water losses in order to save around 100 million cubic meters by 2050, equivalent to the annual consumption in the Greater Amman area, Nasser said.

"We urge our neighbors to adopt similar plans," he said.

Nasser meanwhile told the Jordan Times that Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Authorities had reached an initial agreement to conduct a feasibility study, financed by the World Bank, to build a Red Sea-Dead Sea canal.

The canal would replenish the highly saline Dead Sea, the lowest body of water on Earth, whose existence is threatened as Jordan, Israel and the Palestinians divert for agriculture the Jordan River which feeds it.

The World Bank director for the Middle East and North Africa, Laetitia Obeng, also told delegates on Sunday that each country in her region of operations must "find its own balance to support domestic water requirements in line with population and economic growth."

Meanwhile the secretary-general of the Water and Electricity Ministry in the United Arab Emirates, Ali al-Oweiss, told Jordan's Petra news agency that the desert Arab Gulf countries were mulling a plan to set up a joint water network.

Delegates will seek answers for international water woes through 21 workshops with themes ranging from ways to deal with droughts, to detecting leaks, home plumbing, recycling water and demand reduction.

Speakers from the United States, Japan, Canada, Europe and Arab countries will share their experiences in research as well as state-of-the-art technologies on water conservation.

The May 30-June 2 International Water Demand Management Conference is the first of its kind to be held in the Middle East.

Beirut,06 07 2004
The Daily Star
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