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Tuesday, 22 March 2011

EC launches €40 million to improve water access in ACP countries

To mark World Water Day on 22 March, whose focus is "Water for Cities – Responding to the Urban Challenge", the EU Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs announces the launch of a pooling mechanism in the framework of the ACP-EU Water Facility. €40 million are available under this mechanism, which has been created to blend grants from the European Development Fund (EDF) with loans from the EU multilateral and bilateral finance institutions to finance projects for access to water and sanitation services in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. This financial instrument should increase the leverage effect of the financial aid and will trigger private sector participation. It will also contribute to EU support to Developing countries' efforts to reach the MDG for drinking water and sanitation. EU Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs made the following statement: "For billions of people worldwide, access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation is still a matter of life and death. The "urban theme" of World Water Day 2011 is particularly accurate, because rapid population growth in cities in the developing world is putting additional pressure on infrastructure and services. In the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the international community pledged to provide safe drinking water and sanitation for billions more. Since then, we have made substantial headway. But there must be absolutely no let-up in our efforts to meet these goals. That is why the EU presented the MDG Initiative last year. It will provide an extra €1 billion for African, Caribbean and Pacific countries and has a focus on those MDGs that are most off-track, including water and sanitation. The management of water resources affects all sectors that are important for inclusive growth and sustainable development, such as energy generation, agriculture, food security, and the environment. We will therefore prioritise sustainable water management in our future development policy". To respond to the need for increased focus on water in development policies, the EU launched the EU Water Initiative (EUWI) in 2002. It is a political initiative that seeks to assist partner countries in the development and implementation of policies and strategies for the water and sanitation sector. In that framework, the EU and the ACP countries launched the ACP-EU Water Facility in 2004 with €700 million devoted to projects for the period 2005-2013. Since 2004, more than 32 million people have gained access to improved water supply and 9.5 million to sanitation facilities thanks to support from the European Commission. Since 2002, EU support to water–related issues amounts to €1.2 billion. The Neighbourhood Investment Facility and the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership also contribute to fund water-related programmes.

Source: European Commission