Harper Government marks World Water Day by helping to provide clean drinking water and sanitation

March 22, 2013 - Clean drinking water and basic sanitation are fundamental necessities to lead healthy, productive and dignified lives. Today, in recognition of World Water Day, the Honourable Julian Fantino, Minister of International Cooperation, announced support for two initiatives that will help people in developing countries have access to clean, safe water.

"This year's World Water Day theme—International Year of Water Cooperation—reflects the fact that often water problems cross borders and we need close international cooperation and creative ways to solve the problems," said Minister Fantino. "The Harper Government is proud to support these two initiatives because we know that water is critical to so many aspects of life, including agriculture and economic growth."

Canada will support the African Water Facility, an initiative with the African Development Bank, for the development of water infrastructure projects in Africa. These projects will help people in many African countries have access to drinking water and basic sanitation. The African Water Facility will also assist countries in the management and conservation of shared water resources such as river and lake basins, helping create better agricultural and economic growth opportunities.

Canada is also providing support to the United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health to help resolve pressing global water problems such as access to drinking water and basic sanitation, and the conservation of water resources and how to manage them. Solving water problems helps people in developing countries have better access to nutritious food, and helps improve their health.

This past year, Canada has also helped improve access to water in many parts of the world. For example:

  • In Ghana, Canada helped improve access to safe water, reaching 63 percent of households nationwide, and helped construct 250 dams and dugouts that brought a secure water supply for household and agricultural needs in rural parts of the country;
  • In Honduras, Canada provided access to potable water to nearly 24,000 people in 29 communities;
  • In Haiti, Canada increased access to potable water for 2,500 people; and
  • In North Africa, the Nile Basin Initiative launched a common database to share critical information for the optimal use of Nile water resources, allowing the nine basin countries to manage the water resources in a collaborative way that reduces regional tensions and mobilizes large-scale water infrastructure investments.

The Harper Government remains committed to making Canada's foreign assistance more effective through broadening our partnerships, and working with our global partners to ensure that Canada's international assistance continues to make a greater difference in the lives of those who count on—and benefit from—Canada's help

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For more information, media should contact:

Daniel Bezalel Richardsen
Press Secretary to the Minister of International Cooperation
Telephone: 819-953-6238
Email: danielbezalel.richardsen@acdi-cida.gc.ca

Media Relations Office
Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)
Telephone: 819-953-6534
Email: media@acdi-cida.gc.ca
Follow us on Twitter: @CIDA_CA

Backgrounder

Global water crisis projects announced on World Water Day

World Water Day, observed on March 22, represents a significant opportunity for the global community to raise awareness about serious issues concerning clean water, sanitation, and health that affect so many people in the world.

Canada, through the Canadian International Development Agency, has announced two new projects that will address the ongoing global water crisis.

African Water Facility

The ultimate aim of the African Water Facility — Phase II is to enhance and improve the sustainable development and management of African water resources. Canada's contribution to this project will help alleviate poverty, increase regional cooperation, improve safe environmental practices, and specifically, increase resilience to water-related disasters and to climate change.

The African Water Facility is hosted by the African Development Bank. It aims to strengthen transboundary water-resource governance and management, strengthen evidence-based decision-making capabilities through water data-management systems, and provide small-scale strategic water infrastructure investments in fragile and post-conflict states.

The grant announced today will help leverage $3.2 billion in water infrastructure investments aligned with the African Union's priorities. In the longer term, this investment will contribute to sustainable economic growth in Africa by helping to establish water infrastructure for increased hydropower generation, industrial usage, and irrigation.

Canada's contribution of $19,250,000 in 2012–2016 will contribute directly to achieving Millennium Development Goal 7C: halve, by 2015, the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.

United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health

The United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health responds directly to the global water crisis, and supports global efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals.

The core concern of the United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health is the global water crisis. Lack of adequate freshwater supplies and poor water management contribute to poor sanitation and health, and poverty.

The institute is increasing its focus on food security because the lack of water for food production is the single largest constraint to food security for hundreds of millions of people worldwide. Food production and related agricultural activities take up about 70 percent of the freshwater withdrawals from rivers and groundwater. The institute plays an important role in supporting Canada's food security priorities by focusing on the availability of, and access to, fresh water for agricultural purposes.

Canada's long-term support of $6 million to the institute from 2012/13 to 2014/15 is critical to help address the root causes of the global water crisis by increasing scientific, managerial, and technological water management programming. The institute is hosted by McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.