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The United Nations Development Program says the world is facing a water crisis. It says each year, more than two million children die from diseases caused by unclean water. Most of these deaths are from diarrhea and other sicknesses caused by unclean water polluted by human waste.

The warning is in this year's Human Development Report, released by the U.N. agency on November ninth. Kevin Watkins is the lead writer and head of the Human Development Report office. He says these deaths could be prevented with clean water and toilets. The report also finds that almost half the people in developing countries suffer from health problems due to unclean water and lack of waste removal systems.

Mister Watkins says the crisis in health care also reduces economic growth in many developing nations. The report says more than one thousand million people in the world do not have clean water and sanitation.

The Human Development Report proposes a three-part action plan to help solve the crisis. First, Mister Watkins say that governments need to take action to make water a human right. He says national legislation is needed that provides citizens with the right to twenty liters of water a day.

Second, the action plan calls on each nation to spend more on water and sanitation. It proposes that each nation spend at least one percent of the value of all the goods and services the country produces. Third, the plan calls for increased international aid. This would require an additional four thousand million dollars a year, or two times as much international aid, in the next ten years.

Mister Watkins says the world is not running out of water. The crisis is not because of scarcity. He says there is about the same amount of water in the world every year. The real problem, he says, is the governance of water. Governments need to think of water as a limited, valuable resource. The report also urges governments to consider fairness, equality and social justice when supervising water. Mister Watkins says the poorest people and those with limited land rights are the first to lose their ability to get water.

I’m Shep O'Neal.



There are almost 500 families in Bahao, and nearly 70% of them live in poverty. The village residents are all of the Yao ethnic group. For generations, they have lived in the mountains. Villagers must walk along the long and rocky mountain paths to get to the outside world.

However, a main road that was built in recent years to reach the village has changed the way the villagers live.

"Since 2014, people living in three clusters (nhóm bộ tộc) of Bahao Village have gradually moved to areas along the two sides of the main road. More and more people have moved out of the deep mountains since 2016. Currently, 60% of the people in the three areas have built new houses along the road," said Meng Zhaoyang, the director of a local poverty alleviation office.

Additionally, a pairing system has been established as part of the poverty reduction efforts. Those families that are still living below the poverty line and may need assistance are paired with local officials like Qin Hanfeng, who has been dispatched to guide the poverty alleviation efforts in Bahao since 2015.

"Primarily, our colleagues who are part of the poverty alleviation efforts visit each family at the beginning of the year. They will find out how the families are living and make suggestions on their plans to reach beyond the poverty line," explained Qin.

There are 32 naturally inhabited clusters in Bahao, most of which are not connected by road. There are no cell phone signals, let alone Internet connection. The pairing system ensures that the village residents can be notified of the poverty alleviation policies.

"We help those poverty-stricken families apply for subsidies, like education funding, basic living allowances and endowment insurance. For families with migrant workers, we will try our best to provide training. We will contact them as soon as we have their latest employment information," added Qin.

In early 2012, Chinese President Xi Jinping said that local leadership is crucial to the development of the country's rural areas. Xi Jinping said local officials shall put the country's policies well into practice and make all efforts to help their constituents live a good life.

Currently, people in Bahao mostly make their living by working as migrant workers elsewhere. Some have been able to lift their families beyond the poverty line by doing so.

After examining the local geographical and living conditions, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization once deemed the village unsuitable for human occupancy. China's poverty alleviation policies offer options to those who want to voluntarily relocate from their home regions that are affected by harsh natural conditions. However, many residents of Bahao have chosen to remain in the mountains.

Most villagers believe that more road construction will be the key to a better life.

Composed & Edited by Lê Quốc An
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