The IRIN news service reports that 14 UN-affiliated agencies and the Guinean government signed an $80 million aid package to improve access to clean drinking water in the country's southeastern Forest region.
The package envisages an increase in the number of people with access to drinking water in the region from 59 to 85 percent by 2011, with the main goal of reducing waterborne diseases like cholera and diarrhoea.
“There is a real need right now,” said Idrissa Souare, head of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) N'Zérékoré office in the Forest Region. “It’s really very worrying.”
He told IRIN there were 3,067 drinking water points for over two million people in the Forest Region - about half the required number.
Cholera epidemics have affected several hundred in the last two years. The disease is closely linked to poor hygeine and limited access to clean water.
The Forest region bore the ecological brunt of the more than half a million refugees from Sierra Leone and Liberia that lived in Guinea in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
According to the 2006 UN Human Development index, half of all Guineans do not have reasonable* access to a clean water source.
(*-defined as 5.3 gallons per day from a source within 0.6 miles)