Dr. Salim M. AlMalik, Director-General (DG) of the Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ICESCO), urged countries to prioritize investment in water management, sanitation systems, and hygiene services, according to the official website of ICESCKO.
He also reaffirmed that water security is vital in ensuring not only humanity’s survival, but also socio-economic development, sustained energy production, and food security.
The statement was part of Dr. AlMalik’s address at the opening session of the high-caliber virtual meeting on water security for peace and development in the Islamic world, which ICESCO held today.
The meeting was in cooperation with the Moroccan National Office of Electricity and Water (ONEE), and the Secretariat of the 9th World Water Forum. The event, chaired by Mr. Kabiné Komara, Former Prime Minister of Guinea, is a preparatory event to the 9th World Water Forum, due to be held next year in Dakar, Senegal.
Dr. AlMalik also warned against the difficult global situation in terms of water resources. “Studies and research works have shown that almost 300 thousand children under 5 years of age die each year due to diseases caused by contaminated drinking water and poor hygiene. Besides, over two billion people lack clean drinking water while four billion people suffer from the shortage of sanitation services,” he added.
ICESCO’s DG also stated that women and girls are most affected by the lack of water security in many regions. “In 8 out of 10 households, particularly in poor countries, women bear the burden of ensuring the availability of drinking water. Water scarcity is a major factor in school drop-out and non-enrollment among girls. The poor quality of sanitation services causes health problems and infect 44 million pregnant women. Water resources depletion has affected the socio-economic and political activities, and the increased unemployment rate among youth, who struggle to counter these negative effects through extremism or drugs,” he stressed.
In addition, Dr. AlMalik reaffirmed that “ICESCO pays great attention to water issues which are key to achieving sustainable development goals in the Islamic world. The Organization also implemented several programmes, projects, and action plans to boost water use efficiency through modern technologies.”
During the opening session, which started at 10:00 GMT, Mr. Serigne Mbaye Thiam, Minister of Water and Sanitation of the Republic of Senegal, gave an address wherein he commended this meeting and its topics. He also lauded the excellent cooperation between ICESCO and Senegal, while highlighting that the COVID-19 pandemic pushes us to take prompt collective action to ensure water for all.
In his address, Mr. Loïc Fauchon, President of the World Water Council, said that many Muslim countries suffer from drought and water resources shortage, particularly with the global warming predictions and poor rainfalls in the future. He added that water-induced conflicts have become real, and a balance between water resources and water consumption should be achieved.
At the close of session, Dr. AlMalik and Mr. Serigne Mbaye Thiam signed an agreement between ICESCO and the Ministry of Water and Sanitation of Senegal, for cooperation on holding the 9th World Water Form (Dakar 2021).