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Mauritius, 12 Jan 05

Senior officials of the Government of Mauritius, members of parliament and the corporate world joined more than 150 people for the opening on Monday of a four-day series of UN-HABITAT workshops and seminars on Values-based Water and Sanitation Education (VBWSE).

The seminars are being arranged on the sidelines of the UN conference of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) which opened in Mauritius this week with calls for early warning systems to help cope with disasters like the Asian tsunami.

The Minister of Arts and Culture, Ms. Leela Devi Dookhun and the Minister of Public Utilities, Mr. Alan Ganoo presided at the opening of the event. The main objective is to show how VBWSE can be used to bring about changes in attitude on water conservation and sanitation management in small island countries. Both ministers emphasised their interest in supporting such a programme in Mauritius. Participants shared experiences of UN-HABITAT’s Water for Asian Cities and Water for African cities programmes.

UN-HABITAT also arranged a three-day training workshop for teachers, water utility and corporate representatives with the aim of bringing water education into the school curriculum as well as the workplace. At the closing ceremony on Thursday, UN-HABITAT’s Executive Director, Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, will sign a corporate agreement on water and sanitation on behalf of UN-HABITAT with Air Mauritius.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is expected to attend the meeting after touring the Maldive Islands to see at first hand the damage caused by the tsunami. At an aid conference in Jakarta last week, world leaders called for an early warning system in the Indian Ocean similar to that of the Pacific.

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