The Monitor (Kampala)

7 May 2008

Uganda: Global Initiative Rescues Country's Looming Water Crisis

Uganda is among the countries to benefit from a multimillion-dollar partnership to address declining supplies of fresh water and the lack of access to clean water by the world's poorest people.

The $15m Global Water Initiative will work in 13 other countries: Burkina Faso, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, Kenya, Mali, Nicaragua, Niger, Senegal and Tanzania.

The Global Water Initiative (GWI) that brings together a group of seven leading international organisations: Action Against Hunger-USA, CARE, Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the World Conservation Union (IUCN), International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), Oxfam America and SOS Sahel - UK was launched last in October year. CARE will be running the East African cluster.

The announcement of the GWI comes at a time when more than one billion people lack access to improved water sources, and more than 2.6 billion people lack adequate sanitation. Water resources are under increasing pressure from human use while communities are frequently affected by floods and droughts.

Every year more than five million human beings die from illnesses linked to unsafe drinking water and sanitation.

It is a matter of concern that despite the progress made with water supply, the level of water-related sickness continues to be high, experts warn. 70 - 80 per cent of illnesses are related to water contamination and poor sanitation. The resources saved by improved water supply and sanitation can be used in many economically productive or educational activities.

The GWI will address the challenges of providing long-term access to clean water and sanitation, access to water for rural production, as well as the protection and sustainable management of ecosystem services and watersheds.

The partner organisations will focus on the needs of some of the world's poorest and most vulnerable communities including refugees and internally displaced persons. The projects at local and national levels will help catalyse change toward better integrated management of water resources.

Projects will deliver water and sanitation in rural communities. In addition, investments will be made to strengthen institutions, build capacity to enable organisations to initiate and sustain long term projects, increase community participation, improve local governance, facilitate inter-governmental coordination and cooperation, raise awareness, emphasize innovation and support the development of responsible water policies.

Within the first two years, the GWI will demonstrate practical approaches to achieving integrated water resource management, supporting responsible water policy, addressing water conflict resolution and reducing water related risks.

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