The government has compiled the rough draft of a declaration to be adopted at an international conference on water issues in March, calling for a greater injection of funds and technology to make safe drinking water available to more people worldwide.

The declaration — to be adopted at a ministerial conference of the World Water Forum to be held in Kyoto — aims to prioritize sanitation and securing water supplies, and to more than double the infusion of funds and technology for that goal, government officials said.

The officials said the draft declaration will be proposed during a working-level meeting that begins Thursday in Tokyo. The gathering is scheduled to draw officials from about 40 countries.

It will be in line with the international target to reduce by 2015 the number of people without access to safe drinking water, they said.

The draft declaration also calls for the efficient use of water for agricultural purposes, the prevention of water pollution, ecosystem conservation, flood reduction and better management of water resources, the officials said.

In response to criticism that no substantial results have come out of international conferences such as the World Summit on Sustainable Development held last summer in South Africa, which set numerical targets to reduce poverty, the draft will focus on concrete action and substantial results, the officials said.

In terms of funding, according to officials, the draft aims to play up the role of private investment at home and abroad, in addition to the government’s official development assistance.

However, privatization of water systems in developing countries is expected to draw criticism, due to fears that firms from developed nations could deprive the poor of water.

The draft brings up the idea of capitalizing on the multipurpose capacity of rice paddies to deal with food production as well as to prevent floods and preserve the landscape and environment, and on public participation to improve the management of paddies and other agricultural land.

It seeks revitalization of wetlands and rivers, and creation of an international information exchange about flood countermeasures, as well as global management of water resources using a satellite system.

The officials said Japan is also expected to shore up support for promoting the New Rice for Africa (NERICA) rice strain, a progeny of African-Asian crosses that is resistant to pests and has a high yield. NERICA can be grown in Africa with a small amount of water.

Ministers from around the world are scheduled to participate in a March 22-23 ministerial-level meeting in Kyoto and come up with the declaration, one of the documents to be adopted in the forum, although the document is not binding.

The international forum, the third of its kind, is set for Kyoto, Osaka and Shiga prefectures from March 16 to 23. It is designed to raise global awareness about water issues.

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