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Voice of America
Clinton Global Conference Opens With US Clean Water Initiative for Sub-Saharan Africa </b>
Barbara Schoetzau and Zuli PalacioNew York</i></font>
September 14, 2006
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Many of the world leaders gathered in New York for the United Nations General Assembly debate are also participating in the Clinton Global Initiative launched last year by former President Bill Clinton.

Mr. Clinton started the Initiative last year to bring leaders of government, business and private groups together to find tangible solutions to some of the world's most pressing problems.

Three days of discussions are focusing on four topics: energy and climate change, global health, poverty and religious ethnic and conflict.

Last year the Initiative generated $100 million for HIV/AIDS programs. But Mr. Clinton says smaller budget projects are equally important, especially when time and talent are donated.

"CGI was designed to tackle big global challenges in bite-sized pieces with the conviction that regardless of size or scope, our problems will yield to concerted action and innovative partnerships of individuals, ngo's [non-governmental organizations], businesses and governments," said Bill Clinton.

During its first year, the Initiative generated more than 300 commitments valued at over $2 billion. Clinton hopes to top that figure this year. He says the conference began with five new commitments worth $350 million.

The initial pledge came from US First Lady Laura Bush who announced a major commitment from the US government and two private foundations to bring clean water to sub-Saharan Africa.

"Around the world, more than one billion people do not have safe water to drink or to use to keep themselves and their homes clean," said Laura Bush. "A child dies every 15 seconds from illnesses related to unsafe water. Without clean water, people suffering form HIV and AIDS cannot take their antiretroviral medicine safely and easily and their weakened immune systems are exposed to dangerous waterborne diseases. Finding clean drinking water is the central daily task of women and girls in many parts of Africa, a task that keeps girls out of the classroom."

Mrs. Bush described the program called the Play Pumps Alliance.

"Play Pumps are children's merry-go-rounds attached to a water pump in a storage tank," she said. "When the wheel turns, clean drinking water is produced. Play Pumps are fueled by a limitless energy source, children at play."

The US government is pledging $10 million to the Alliance's goal of $60 million to install 4,000pumps in schools and communities and provide clean drinking water to as many as 10 million sub-Saharan Africans by 2010.



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