A senior U.N. official has called on the international donor community to provide $615 million by 2008 to improve clean water supplies in Africa, where 300 million people are still using unsafe water.
"At the turn of the new millennium, over 300 million people in Africa did not have adequate access to safe water and this number is growing," said Kingsley Amoako, executive secretary of the U.N. Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).
"National and international water sector financing arrangements do not reflect the funding required to achieve targets such as the Millennium Development Goals to reduce the number of people without access to safe water by half by 2015," he added.
Amoako said the average annual investment in the continent's water supply and sanitation between 1990 and 2000 was $4.6 billion, 40 percent of what was needed to meet basic needs.
"In several African countries, little more than than one percent of the public sector budget is directed towards funding low-cost water and sanitation," he said, speaking at the opening of a five-day conference on water in Africa.
Amoako called on African governments to take decisive action to improve the situation. The continent's population is about 850 million, according to Whitaker's Almanack.
Other topics on the agenda at the Pan-African Conference on Water include water scarcity in North Africa and growing concern about access to water where water resources are shared between countries.