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The United Nations World Water Development Report 2003

Water for People, Water for Life

image of The United Nations World Water Development Report 2003

WWDR1 is targeted to all those involved in the formulation and implementation of water-related policies and investment strategies, as well as to professionals at all levels. Although it offers a broad global picture, it focuses particularly on the situation in developing countries, where the need for better infrastructure and governance is highest. With this report, WWAP is aiming to show where systems are failing, and to provide the information needed for efficient and effective capacity-building throughout the world. This 1st edition of the WWDR laid the foundation for subsequent editions, concentrating essentially on evaluating what progress has been made, and not made, since the Rio Summit and on developing effective assessment methodologies. The Report encompasses a broad range of components, focusing on human stewardship of freshwater, that complex aggregation of policies, legislation, social programmes, economic approaches and management strategies through which we seek to achieve water sustainability.

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Mitigating risk and coping with uncertainty

THIS CHAPTER ASSESSES THE NATURE AND COSTS of water-related risks. Such disasters as floods and droughts take an enormous toll on human life, not to mention the social, economic and environmental losses they cause. Risk is growing, with human-induced emergencies now overtaking natural disasters. In 1999 alone, natural disasters accounted for at least 50,000 deaths. The burden of loss, of course, is greatest in poor countries, where thirteen times more people die from such events than in rich ones. Economic losses also tend to be larger as a proportion of the total economy in developing countries, and most are uninsured. Natural disasters may be unavoidable, but with better planning and prevention – risk management – their impact can be reduced.

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