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WATER FORUM TEAM: President Bharrat Jagdeo with the two students who would be attending the water forum, and others, including Water Minister Shaik Baksh, right.
TWO students from the hinterland are in the Guyana delegation for the Third World Water Forum scheduled for Japan March 18-22.
Minister of Housing and Water, Mr. Shaik Baksh, who is heading the delegation to Japan, said the forum would be held under the theme `Addressing Water Issues through Ownership and Partnership for Sustainable Development'.
He told the Government Information Agency (GINA) the meeting will benefit Guyana significantly, especially the modernisation aspect of the water sector.
Chairman of Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI), Mr. William Wilson, Minister Baksh, Mr. Charles Holmes and the two hinterland students paid a courtesy call on President Bharrat Jagdeo Tuesday at the Office of the President.
The two students, Laureen Cornelius of Santa Rosa Primary School in Region One (Barima/Waini) and Abraham Realine of Aishalton Secondary School in Region Nine (Upper Takutu/Upper Essequibo), were selected to attend the Children's Water and Sanitation Conference at the forum.
GINA said they became qualified to represent Guyana after contesting in an essay competition on `What can our student government do to help promote good hygiene and water practices in our schools and community'.
The essays were judged on the students' understanding of water and health issues, the role of the student government, community needs, creativity, proposed actions and the ability to communicate information and articulate ideas, the agency said.
It was noted that the Japanese and Dutch governments in collaboration with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) are funding the trip for the two students.
Baksh said, "Water will be a critical issue in the world during the 21st century and all countries are collaborating and engaging in intense discussions to ensure that this resource is shared among nations."
He added that the World Water Forum is a ministerial conference and five major areas will be discussed. These include safe drinking water and sanitation, water for food and rural development, water pollution prevention and ecosystem conservation, disaster mitigation and risk management, water resources management and benefit-sharing.
The minister said the areas on the agenda are key issues for the governments that will be represented to discuss and form a Ministerial Declaration at the end of the forum. He noted that the issues on the agenda are key areas that Guyana will have to address, GINA said.
Baksh said steps will be taken to establish a National Water Council through a National Water Policy to manage the resource. He pointed out that several steps have been taken to modernise Guyana's water sector with one utility now controlling it.
Treatment plants are being constructed and rehabilitated to provide residents with safe water, he said.
"This is not a case for the Government alone but it concerns other stakeholders, including the private sector and the public at large. I am quite sure this will be of tremendous benefit to the way forward for Guyana," he told GINA.