Dubai drive raises enough to bring water to 7 million people

An Indian woman offers drinking water collected from a man-made well to her son in a village some 160 kms from Ahmedabad on June 1, 2014. Many villagers walk two kilometres to fetch water daily as local supplies are scarce and at times contaminated.
An Indian woman offers drinking water collected from a man-made well to her son in a village some 160 kms from Ahmedabad on June 1, 2014. Many villagers walk two kilometres to fetch water daily as local supplies are scarce and at times contaminated. Many Indian cities face severe water shortages particularly during the summer months, when temperatures soar above the 40 degrees Celsius. PHOTO: AFP

DUBAI (AFP) - A Dubai initiative to provide potable water to five million people facing shortages in Asia and Africa has raised nearly US$50 million (S$62.11 million), local media reported Wednesday.

The UAE Water Aid campaign, named Suqia, has exceeded its goal as the funds collected will in fact benefit seven million people, Emarat Alyoum daily reported.

Contributions from Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum alone would benefit one million people, it said.

The drive was timed to start with the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, a period favoured by believers to pay alms.

Contributions, which totalled US$49.1 million came from large top companies in Dubai, businessmen and ordinary citizens, media reported.

It will help fund drilling, pumping, and water purification methods in poor countries.

The UAE Red Crescent has already started work on boring wells in 10 countries, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Niger, Somalia, Ghana, Sudan, Indonesia, Togo and Iraq, the reports said.

Approximately 3.4 million people die across the globe each year due to the lack of clean water, according to the Dubai government.

The oil-rich UAE donated around one billion dirhams (S$335.4 million) between 2009 and 2013 in aid to solve water problems in 61 countries, according to official statistics.