Mon, 17 Oct 1994

Soeharto dedicates new dam, launches water saving drive

JAKARTA (JP): Concerned over the widespread inefficient use of water, President Soeharto launched a national water saving campaign yesterday.

The drive aims at preventing severe, long-term water shortages, Soeharto said in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara, when addressing the 14th anniversary of World Food Day.

The goal of the campaign is to direct the attitudes of government officials, businesses and the public alike toward efficient use of water, the President said.

FAO selected "Water for Life" as this year's theme of commemoration of the International Food Day and Indonesia took "Water sustainable, life shines."

Since the first Five Year Plan (Pelita I) in 1969, the Soeharto administration focused on water resource development, which resulted in self-sufficiency in rice production.

Soeharto said after building substantial irrigation systems over the past two decades that Indonesia needs to focus on more effective and efficient use of water.

"To achieve this goal, we must maintain water resources, better control exploitation of forests and protect river basins," said Soeharto in the ceremony attended by numerous senior officials and other notables.

The FAO representative in Jakarta, Ibrahim Abul-Zahab, said that the global water supply available for human consumption is 9,000 cubic kilometers a year or about 1,800 cubic meters per person.

"This may sound like a lot of water but the available resources are neither distributed evenly nor used efficiently," he said.

He said lack of knowledge, resources and sometimes sheer irresponsibility has led to the current pollution crisis, which has cause both diseases and deaths.

World Food Day in Indonesia was centered in Pelambik village, Central Lombok, an area which stands as a symbol of the success of agricultural development and has made West Nusa Tenggara one of Indonesia's 10 largest rice producers.

On the occasion, President Soeharto also dedicated an irrigation reservoir in the Pengga. (pan)