Johannesburg — SA IS one of 77 developing countries which would benefit from a new à 1bn fund which the European Commission is proposing to provide safe drinking water and reliable sanitation for Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific.
The fund, which builds on the European Union (EU) Water Initiative, launched at last year's World Summit on Sustainable Development is intended achieve the set target of halving, by 2015, the number of people across the world without access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.
Details of the proposed fund were announced yesterday by EU Commission President Romano Prodi.
"The European Commission today proposed the establishment of a EU Water Fund, with a budget of à 1bn, to help give people in the 77 African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) signatory countries to the Cotonou Agreement access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation," the commission announced.
The commission said the fund was intended to be a catalyst promoting initiatives, providing information, being a clearing-house, building research and management capacity in ACP countries as well as an instrument which can provide the missing link in financing sustainable projects and activities."
The commission is to discuss the proposal with the EU member states and the ACP countries "and will give due consideration to the necessary steps to allow the financing to be mobilised from the European Development Fund to set up the Fund."
Said Prodi, "our proposal to commit à 1bn to a new EU Water Fund shows our determination to make good the undertakings made at the Johannesburg summit.
"Water is the key to life on earth and far too many people are forced to eke out a living without safe supplies of this most basic resource.
"We hope that the EU Member States and ACP partner countries will back this bold initiative and that it will serve as a catalyst to encourage others around the world to take similar measures to ease the plight of those less fortunate than we are."
EU development commissioner Poul Nielson , said: "Water plays a vital role for sustaining life."
With this Communication, the Commission confirms its determination to deliver on the commitments it made in Johannesburg. We call on Member States and ACP partners to support this initiative."