Access to water key for world's poor: experts


June 18, 2010 Updated Aug 17, 2009 at 3:31 PM EDT

An international cast of politicians, industry leaders and United Nations officials joined forces Monday to improve access to water and halt a tide of deaths in poor nations.

Some 2,000 experts met at a global water summit in Sweden to tackle problems related to the vital natural resource.

Millions of people worldwide die each year of water- and hygiene-related diseases, Sweden's minister for international development cooperation said as she opened World Water Week 2009.

"By increasing access to water we can change the lives and health of poor women, men and children for the better," said Gunilla Carlsson.

"Nearly four million people die every year due to water- and sanitation-related diseases," she added.

She urged "coherence and cooperation" between a range of sectors to help provide safe water to all, as well as between nations.

This year's summit has a special focus on waterways that cross borders -- how they can both create conflict and foment good relations.

Delegates at the week-long summit in Stockholm, organised by the Stockholm International Water Institute, include government ministers from across the world.

They will discuss a wide range of issues from farming and climate, to meetings which focus on different regions.

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