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European Union quenches water and sanitation problems for Zimbabwe’s rural poor

HARARE, 23 August 2006 – The European Union has donated 3.7mEuro (approx US$4.7million) to a UNICEF project that will reach 500,000 Zimbabweans with improved sanitation, hygiene and water facilities. The project focuses on those infected and affected by HIV and AIDS.

The EU’s contribution comes at a critical time when many Zimbabwean families and communities are struggling with reduced access to basic services, the aftermath of almost four years of drought, continued economic downturn, and the AIDS pandemic. It is the single largest donation toward UNICEF’s water and sanitation activities in Zimbabwe.

“As recent cholera outbreaks in Zimbabwe remind us, water and sanitation is among the most important determinants of public health,” said UNICEF’s Representative in Zimbabwe, Dr Festo Kavishe. “When people achieve reliable access to safe drinking-water and adequate sanitation they have won a major battle against a wide range of diseases.”

The European Union funds are for five years, targeting six districts of Zimbabwe. The project supports hygiene promotion, the construction of latrines in households and schools, nutrition gardens, and the drilling of critical new bore holes.

“The European Union is committed to assisting the work being done by Zimbabwe’s rural communities, as they grapple with water, sanitation and hygienic challenges brought by the AIDS epidemic,” said the European Commission’s Head of Delegation, Ambassador Xavier Marchal. “These funds will reach half a million Zimbabweans and are just part of our wider poverty-alleviation programmes across the country.” The funds are implemented in line with current EU policy towards Zimbabwe and originate from the Water Facility established by the European Commission.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that trends towards urbanization marginilise rural communities. The project will, therefore, pay particular attention to the water and sanitation needs of rural Zimbabwe through:
1. The construction of more than 6700 household latrines and 540 school latrines (from which in return, schools offer free places to Orphans and other Vulnerable Children);
2. The promotion of nutrition gardens and livestock rearing through new water sources, thus ensuring nutritious foods for HIV-positive people, and income generation for tens of thousands;
3. The drilling of 24 new boreholes and the repair and rehabilitation of 350 broken down water points, and the protection of 300 shallow wells; and
4. Hygiene promotion to directly benefit 250,000 people.

The European Union funds are in addition to more than 1.5mEuro it recently invested in integrating water supply, sanitation and hygiene promotion to Home Based Care projects for 100,000 people.

UNICEF is currently working with the Zimbabwean Government in the development of a consolidated national rural domestic water supply and sanitation policy. Through the Water and Environmental Sanitation Working Group, UNICEF is coordinating water and sanitation humanitarian interventions targeted at vulnerable populations in the country.

“Our efforts are driven by a desire to support households and communities, in particular orphans and other vulnerable children who have been most affected by the HIV and AIDS epidemic,” said UNICEF’s Kavishe. “We are extremely grateful to the European Union for their continued commitment to assist these most vulnerable of populations.”


For 60 years UNICEF has been the world’s leader for children, working on the ground in 156 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For more information, please contact:
James Elder, Communication Officer, UNICEF Zimbabwe: Tel +263 91 276120




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