The Canadian Minister of International Cooperation, Ms. Susan Whelan today signed a memorandum on behalf of the Canada Fund for Africa of the Canadian International Development Agency committing over US$10 million (15 million Canadian dollars) to UN-HABITAT's Water and Sanitation Trust Fund. She congratulated UN-HABITAT for the success of the first part of the Water for African Cities programme.
The fund, launched in October 2002, is designed to improve water and sanitation in African cities, provide sanitation and hygiene education in schools, and demonstrate innovative approaches to providing affordable services to urban poor.
In her speech, Ms. Whelan said that the Water for African Cities Programme and the Water and Sanitation Trust Fund were important contributions towards meeting the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) goal of eradicating poverty and to the overall goals of the Africa Water Vision for 2025. “Unfortunately, in many countries, governance in the water sector is weak and water does not have a sufficiently high priority on the public agenda. We need to increase public awareness, including the awareness of governments, about the importance of safe water and sanitation services,” she said.
“Access to water and sanitation will play a key role in enabling Africa to make progress in all the Millennium Development Goals and I can’t think of a more strategic investment in the people and future of Africa,” she said praising UN-HABITAT’s work in the water and sanitation sector.
The event was attended by the Executive Director of UN-HABITAT, Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, Kenya’s Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Water Resources Management and Development, Professor George Krhoda, Ms Rosalinda Velenton-Tirona of the Philippines, who chair’s the Committee of the Permanent Representatives to UN-HABITAT, representatives from UN-HABITAT and the Canadian dignitaries.
“The world has agreed to halve the number of people who lack access to safe water by 2015. This contribution to UN-HABITAT from the government of Canada is an important step towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals,” Mrs. Tibaijuka said. “For the past three years, the Water for African Cities programme has been helping seven African countries to put in place an integrated urban water resource management strategy that brings three critical, but often overlooked, sectors: urban, environment and water, to work together.” The Canadian funding would now enable UN-HABITAT to expand the project to more cities in Africa.
In Johannesburg, she said, the programme had generated sufficient savings in water demands to justify the cancellation of a project to build an additional reservoir. In Addis Ababa, despite a growing population and drought, demand management has resulted in a US$1.6 million annual savings to the government.