Policy makers, managers and scientists from Vietnam , Laos and Cambodia and representatives of international organisations and donors are attending a consulting seminar on water and sanitation in Mekong region which opened in Hanoi on April 20.

The seminar, held within the framework of the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN Habitat)’s Mekong Water Sanitation Initiative (Mek-Watsan) aim at supplying poor people in the three Mekong countries with fresh and sanitary water.

UN-Habitat is currently implementing its urgent projects in 17 medium and small-sized urban areas in the three countries.

The seminar heard that only 30-40 percent of people in Vietnamese townlets are provided with fresh water, while a mere 11 percent of people in Cambodia have access to sanitation services, and 45 out of 145 Laos ’ towns and townlets are supplied with clean water.

UN-Habitat hopes that the implementation of the initiative will support participating governments to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for water supply and sanitation.

Andre Dzikus, UN-Habitat Programme Manager said insufficient fresh and hygienic water provision will not only affect regional people’s health but also make these countries fail to fulfill the UN MDGs, which is set to halve the number of people unable to access fresh water and sanitation supply services by 2015.

The three-day seminar will discuss challenges that the three countries are facing, their initiatives as well as action plans on fresh water provision./.