The European Union's Development Commissioner, Andris Piebalgs, on Wednesday (December 19th) said the European Union will support Djibouti's project to build a desalination plant.
The plant will use renewable energy to provide water to 200,000 people, one-fourth of the country's population. The EU will provide €40.5 million of the estimated cost of €46 million for the plant.
The remaining €5.5 million will be financed from Djibouti. The announcement was made following a visit to Brussels by Djibouti's Prime Minister, Mr. Dileita Mohamed Dileita. Announcing the funding, Development Commissioner, Andris Piebalgs, said "access to water is a human right and it's unacceptable that insufficient water supply can be a source of conflict, as Djibouti recently experienced". He said that with the new project the EU is "not only increasing access to water for the people" but also helping "to bring security and stability for all Djiboutians".
It was also an example that the EU was prepared to keep its promises. Djibouti suffers from an acute water shortage and recently endured a prolonged drought. The current demand for water in Djibouti City (where around 75% of the population lives) is estimated at 80,000 m3 a day but less than half of this is currently supplied by the local aquifer, the only source of potable water for the city. This has now reached its physical limit. The only viable alternative is desalination. The PEPER (Producing Safe Drinking Water with Renewable Energy) project will set up a desalination plant in the capital to directly respond to the need to provide affordable and clean drinking water.
The new facility will have a capacity of 22,500 m3 per day, easily extendable to 45,000 m3 per day. The PEPER project is one of the components of the EU's Sustainable Energy for All initiative, which President Barroso announced in April. It will also support the Government of Djibouti's reform program in the energy sector.
The project is in line with commitments made at the Rio +20 summit and marks the first step towards Djibouti's goal of moving towards 100% renewable energy by 2020.