US Senator Timothy E. Wirth, President of the United Nations Foundation, praised UN-HABITAT’s Water for African Cities Programme as one of the most cost-effective projects funded by the Foundation.
Wirth made the remarks at a Washington luncheon for Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, Executive Director of UN-HABITAT, attended by other US Senators, Congressmen, policy makers and planners.
The Water for African Cities project being implemented in nine African cities, started in 1998 with support from the UN Foundation. Wirth cited its cost-effectiveness for the way it helps control water wastage while at the same time improving basic services for the urban poor.
In a keynote address to an audience keen to discuss the importance of clean, accessible water in Africa’s rapidly expanding urban areas, Mrs Tibaijuka described the water situation as a pressing development challenge. She also recounted her first-hand experience of the negative impact this shortage has on Africa’s development agenda.
The key aims of the project are to tackle the urban water crisis in African cities through efficient and effective water demand management, build capacity to mitigate the environmental impact of urbanisation on freshwater resources and boost awareness and information exchange on water management and conservation. It also promotes the exchange of best practices
At the World Summit for Sustainable Development, held in Johannesburg last year, government officials, environmental activists, UN agencies, and other major stakeholders gathered to address the impact of human activities on the environment. As a component of the WSSD Plan of Action, a global commitment was made to halve the number of people without access to clean, safe, and sustainable drinking water by 2015.
Through the efforts of UN-HABITAT’s Water for African Cities program, urban water issues have been raised to the forefront of the international agenda and the fundamentals of urban water management are in the stages of reform. At WSSD, the Asian Development Bank announced funding plans for an extension of the program – Water for Asian Cities – and the Third World Water Forum has invited the program to organize an international conference on Water and Cities.
The Executive Directors Speech