Delegates from the United Nations and over 40 countries meeting in Ghana have called for a $10 billion dedicated water fund to be established, in order to dramatically increase the number of Africans having access to clean water. Kate Davenport reports the decision was made at the end of the conference late Wednesday in the capital of Accra

The delegates have recommended that a $10 billion annual fund should be established to improve access to water supplies and sanitation in Africa.

They said the ambitious goal of the fund would be to cut in half the number of Africans without access to clean water by 2015, and to reduce the total by three quarters by 2025.

U.N. figures show that only 60 percent of sub-Saharan Africa's 680 million people currently have access to safe drinking water.

The final declaration at the end of the three day conference, said $6 billion was needed to meet annual basic water supply and sanitation targets, $2 billion for irrigated agriculture, and another $2 billion for institutional development.

Delegates argued that local and private resources were inadequate for such a fund.

They suggested that the New Partnership for Africa's Development, an African initiative that seeks a new financial relationship with the developed world and global business, might provide the key.

During the conference, organised by the Ghanaian and Dutch governments, Ghana's President John Kufuor said he regrets the fact that Africans lacked adequate safe water, despite the "mighty rivers" of the Nile, the Congo, the Limpopo, the Volta and the Great Lakes.

Dutch crown prince Willem-Alexander, lamented that more than one billion people worldwide lack safe drinking water, and more than two million die each year from water-related diseases.

People in the worst-off 50 countries, at least half of them in Africa, are forced to get by on 30 liters or less per day for farming, cleaning, and all other needs.

That's well under than the 50 liters per day that the United Nations says constitutes the absolute minimum.

The conference, sponsored by the African Development Bank, is considered a prelude to the World Summit for Sustainable Development, opening in Johannesburg, South Africa this August.