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Donors, countries to reach millions more people with water and sanitation

Major commitments, investments announced at High Level Meeting on Water and Sanitation for All

WASHINGTON DC, 20 April, 2012 – At a meeting today called by UNICEF and The World Bank, donors announced new plans to greatly expand access to improved water and sanitation for millions of people over the next two years. Ministers from developing countries also pledged to provide tens of millions of people with access to improved drinking water sources and improved sanitation.

The High Level Meeting on Water and Sanitation brought together ministers from 40 developing countries and donors, including the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), Dutch Cooperation, the Government of Japan, the Government of Switzerland, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, together made commitments to design innovative new projects, work with the private sector and NGOs and extend access to improve drinking water sources and sanitation facilities to millions more people in the next two years.

These commitments will accelerate progress towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goal targets. In March, UNICEF and the World Health Organization announced that the MDG target on drinking water had been reached, but that the sanitation target would not be met at current rates of progress.

According to UNICEF, almost 3,000 children die daily from diarrhoeal disease due to poor water and sanitation.

“This new investment means millions more children have a far better chance now of getting their basic needs met – better sanitation is better health," said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake.

UK Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell announced that the UK, through DFID, would double the number of people it reached with aid in water, sanitation and hygiene education in the next two years, going from 30 to at least 60 million people globally by 2015.

"For too long, water and sanitation has not received the priority it deserves from the international community,” said Mitchell. “But we know that without clean water supplies and proper sanitation, we will never help developing countries stand independently and thrive.”

Dutch Minister for European Affairs and International Cooperation Ben Knapen announced new cooperation between the Netherlands and United Kingdom to bring water and sanitation to an additional 10 million people in nine countries – mostly fragile, post-conflict states in West and Central Africa.

Under the initiative, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom will give contributions to be matched by the same amount from UNICEF and recipient countries.

With the involvement of Dutch knowledge institutions and expertise, the Netherlands intends to scale up its assistance to reach 25 million more people globally over the next four years. 

“In the current economic climate we are not taking this decision lightly,” said Knapen. “We are giving a significant amount of money to UNICEF to help in this work, but when you count the health and economic benefits, and in particular the lives of children, the government of the Netherlands believes this is unquestionably the right call.”

USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah announced that USAID will join the Sanitation and Water for All Partnership.

The pledges made today at the High Level Meeting provide new political momentum to reach the worst off, especially those in rural areas and in urban slums.

About SWA
Sanitation and Water for All is a global partnership aimed at achieving universal and sustainable access to sanitation and drinking-water for all, by firmly placing sanitation and water on the global agenda with an immediate focus on achieving the MDGs in the most off-track countries. More information is available at www.sanitationandwaterforall.org

UNICEF works in 190 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 about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org

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For further information, please contact:

Rita Ann Wallace, UNICEF New York, Mobile + 1 917 213 4034, rwallace@unicef.org

Peter Smerdon, UNICEF New York, Tel + 1 212 303-7984, psmerdon@unicef.org




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