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EU Aid (Water and Sanitation)

Volume 448: debated on Monday 3 July 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on the effectiveness of the EU's aid efforts on water and sanitation. (79560)

The EU, that is the 25 member states and the European Commission, is the largest donor on water and sanitation in Africa, spending over £1.4 billion in the sector in 2003-04. The EU Water Initiative was set up to co-ordinate these efforts, identify gaps and ensure that the money we spend is used more effectively to deliver services to the poor. The UK attaches great importance to more and better aid for water and sanitation, particularly in sub- Saharan Africa where the MDG targets for access to these basic services are so off track.

There has, however, been concern that political commitment to the EU Water Initiative has declined and that it is not delivering its objectives. A further problem is that with very limited monitoring and reporting mechanisms it has not been sufficiently accountable to its stakeholders. We have therefore raised these issues in the EU Water Initiative Steering Group and are now working with a number of other member states to reinvigorate the initiative, including developing proper indicators for monitoring and improving the focus of work in partner countries. We hope this will lead to renewed political commitment and better implementation on the ground.

The EU Consensus on Development, agreed during the UK Presidency, referred to the EU Water Initiative and the importance of increased aid more broadly. In addition, the EU-Africa Strategy also included a reference to access to water supply and sanitation. In raising the political profile of water and sanitation through these policy documents, we hope that other member states will be encouraged to increase their support to the sector, particularly as their levels of development funding increase.