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AKIPRESS.COM - At a meeting on 24 April 2014 in Burabay, Kazakhstan, key stakeholders of the National Policy Dialogue on water resources Steering Committee of Kazakhstan recommended the initiation of the process of joining the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE)-World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe Protocol on Water and Health, the UNECE reported on April 28.
The recommendation is based on the positive results of the assessment conducted by UNECE-supported local expert group, which examined the legal, institutional and financial needs for the implementation of the Protocol in Kazakhstan, as well as the outcomes of the national workshop on the Protocol held on 23 and 24 April. The workshop was attended by more than 30 participants representing key governmental agencies responsible for water and health issues, non-governmental organizations and academia.
In spite of progress in recent years in access to water and sanitation in Kazakhstan, there is still room for improvement, especially in rural areas. Thanks to Government investment programmes, 42.5 per cent of the rural population now has access to the centralized drinking water supply. Wastewater treatment also requires improvement, as currently only two thirds of urban wastewater is treated according to national standards. In addition, 64 per cent of water supply networks need to be rebuilt.
At the meeting, the Steering Committee also adopted its workplan for 2014–2015, which includes a range of activities to be conducted in the framework of the NPD, such as strengthening of river basin administrations and fostering transboundary cooperation. UNECE and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), as strategic partners for the NPD process, will seek assistance from donors to finance the implementation of the activities. The workplan will also help Kazakhstan to implement its ambitious State Programme on Water Resources Management until 2040.
In 2013 Kazakhstan became the ninth country in the region of Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia to join the NPD process. Conducted within the framework of the European Union Water Initiative, the NPD process provides a platform for closer cooperation between different ministerial agencies for discussion of the direction of national water sector policy.