|Children enjoying a swim in Zenza River on the outskirts of Luanda, where a national programme to improve water and sanitation is underway.|
By Lone Hvass
LUANDA, Angola 29 July 2009 – The Government of Angola has launched a multi-year Joint UN Programme on Water and Sanitation in Luanda, along with UNICEF, the UN Development Programme, the International Organization of Migration and the International Labour Organization.
During the launch ceremony on 24 July, Angolan Secretary of State for Water Luis Filipe da Silva highlighted the current investment drive for improved safe-water coverage.
“The 'Water for All' programme commits the Government of Angola to provide water for 80 per cent of urban and 50 per cent of rural dwellers by 2012, raising the bar to 100 per cent and 80 per cent by the year 2020,” he said.
Funded by the Government of Spain through the Millennium Development Fund, the programme will directly benefit 120,000 people and positively affect the lives of another 400,000 in Luanda and Moxico provinces.
Unsafe water and poor sanitation
Within this new programme, UNICEF is taking the lead in supporting the design of an information system that will work towards the institutionalization of a National Forum on Water and Sanitation, the building of water supply and sanitation systems, and training of local water and sanitation management groups.
More investment is needed, as Angolans are a far cry from universal access to water and sanitation. For the many families that do not have piped water, this basic necessity usually comes at a prohibitive cost. Consequently, many families rely on unsafe water from rivers for their household needs.
Diarrhoea is most often the result of using unsafe water and living in poor sanitary conditions. Unsafe drinking water and a lack of improved sanitation and hygiene contribute to about 88 per cent of diarrhoeal deaths.
Right to clean water
Research shows that there is a good return on an investment in water and sanitation. Angola’s children need this support, and the government is stepping up its efforts to provide improved basic social services.
The right to water and a clean environment is enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and also forms part of the '11 Commitments to Angola’s Children' adopted in 2007 by the Government of Angola in alliance with its development partners.
Also speaking at the launch, UN Resident Coordinator Jocelline Bazile-Finley remarked that “the joint programme on water is an initiative that feeds into Angola’s national strategy to reach Millennium Development Goal number seven [ensuring environmental sustainability] and one that will also contribute to reducing poverty.”