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WATER WORLD
Asia-Pacific facing water crisis: ADB
by Staff Writers
Manila (AFP) March 13, 2013


Munich Re says 'optimistic' for 2013
Frankfurt (AFP) March 12, 2013 - Munich Re, the world's biggest reinsurer, said Tuesday it expects business and earnings to be stable this year after bottom-line profit increased by more than fourfold in 2012.

"Even though the consolidation of state finances and high unemployment will result in slower economic momentum in many industrialised countries, we remain optimistic for our business," said chief executive Nikolaus von Bomhard.

"For 2013, we are aiming for a result of close to 3.0 billion euros ($3.9 billion)," he said.

And assuming exchange rates remain stable, Munich Re "anticipates that for the financial year 2013 its gross premiums written will range between 50-52 billion euros," von Bomhard added.

As already reported last month, Munich Re's net profit soared to 3.211 billion euros in 2012 from 711 million euros a year earlier.

Operating profit also more than quadrupled, hitting 5.35 billion euros compared with 1.18 billion euros in 2011 and gross premium income was up 5.1 percent at 52.0 billion euros.

The main factor behind the sharp rise in profit were lower losses from natural catastrophes, which amounted to 1.3 billion euros last year, with Hurricane Sandy being the year's biggest loss event costing the group around 800 million euros before tax.

The year before, natural catastrophe losses had been as much as 4.5 billion euros in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, earthquakes in New Zealand and floods in Thailand.

For 2012, Munich Re is to pay an increased dividend of 7.00 euros per share compared with 6.25 euros per share a year earlier.

Nearly two thirds of people in the Asia-Pacific region have no clean, piped water at home despite the region's strong economic growth, according to a major report released on Wednesday.

Water security is a major concern for most countries in the region, but the problem is poor management and a lack of investment in infrastructure rather than short supplies, said the report released by the Asian Development Bank.

"What is lacking in Asia is good water governance," Ranesh Vaidya, a water specialist from Nepal who helped prepare the report, told journalists at its launch at the ADB headquarters in Manila.

"There is a definite link between good governance and good water."

Studies for the Asian Water Development Outlook report, prepared by the ADB and other research institutes, found that 37 out of 49 countries in the region had low levels of water security.

The percentage of Asia's population with access to proper toilets had risen from 36 percent in 1990 to 58 percent in 2010, according to the report.

But that left 1.74 billion people without regular access to proper toilets, with nearly half of those still suffering "the indignity of practicing open defecation".

It said most of those people were in South Asia.

In contrast, Southeast Asia and East Asia were described as "bright spots", where access to proper toilets had expanded to at least 64 percent of their populations, the report said.

The report said 900 million people across the Asia-Pacific had gained access to clean, piped water from 1990 to 2010, describing this as an important achievement.

However 65 percent of people across the Asia Pacific still lived without secure household water supplies.

The situation was particularly dire in Pacific and South Asian nations where only 21 and 23 percent of their populations respectively had access to piped water.

"While the Asia-Pacific region has become an economic powerhouse, it is alarming that no developing country in the region can be considered water secure," ADB vice president for sustainable development Bindu Lohani said.

"Countries must urgently improve water governance through inspired leadership and creative policy making."

The report said $59 billion needed to be spent across the region to get water supplies up to standard, and another $71 billion to improve sanitation.

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