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Special Event at the 2004 Stockholm Water Week
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Hon. Edward Lowassa (MP), Minister of Water and Livestock Development, United Republic of Tanzania ,

Hon. Martha Martha Karua (MP), Minister of Water Resources, Republic of Kenya and current Chair of the Equatorial Nile Basin Initiative,

Hon. Maria Mutagamba (MP), Minister of State for Water Resources, Republic of Uganda , and the incoming Chairperson of the African Ministers Council on Water,

Dr. Tom Okurut, Representative of the Secretary General of the East Africa Community

Your Excellencies the Ambassadors

Honorable Representatives of the Donor Community

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

Let me begin by thanking you all for accepting our invitation to join in this special session, allowing us to share with you the developing initiative on “ Meeting the MDG 's on Water and Sanitation in Secondary Urban Centres in the Lake Victoria Region, an initiative that UNHABITAT has begun in the Lake Victoria Region.

Honourable Ministers, Your Excellencies Ambassadors, Distiguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, at the outset let me extend my sincerest gratitude to the Ministers from the Partner States of the Lake Region who are here with us, and without whom we could not have reached this stage.

Let me also extend my appreciation to and recognize the presence here of the representative of the Secretary General of the East African Community, with whom UNHABITAT has established partnership in this important initiative.

It is indeed heart-warming to see that Africa is now ready, more than ever before, to articulate a development agenda for the continent, which is owned by Africans and is rooted in African reality. The New Partnership for Africa 's Development (NEPAD) Water Agenda and the coming into being of the Africa Ministers Council on Water (AMCOW) exemplify these encouraging political developments.

Those of you who attended the PanAfrican Implementation and Partnership Conference in Addis in December last year would recall that the second phase of the Water for African Cities Programme (WAC II), was launched by African Ministers with full support of AMCOW during this Conference . In the second phase, a key objective of the Water for African Cities Programme is to promote pro-poor investment in water and sanitation in African cities.

In the second phase we intend to follow a two pronged approach in promoting investment in water and sanitation. For the larger cities in Africa , we are working with the African Development Bank to bring loan finance for investments in water and sanitation. UN-HABITAT will help to improve local capacity in these cities and prepare the ground for follow-up investments, as we are successfully progressing in Asia . In the smaller towns in Africa , however, a different approach is required. In many of these towns the infrastructure is often in disuse because of poor maintenance and lack of rehabilitation and low human resource capacity for operation and maintenance. With relatively modest support, these water and sanitation services in these towns could be drastically improved. UN-HABITAT intends to bring grant support to these towns on a revolving fund principle, mainly to rehabilitate the existing facilities and to strengthen local capacity for maintenance and operation.

The Lake Victoria Small Towns Initiative being launched here today is a concrete step taken by UN-HABITAT to operationalize the Programme in the Lake Victoria sub-region.

As you would be aware, countries in the Lake Victoria region have already initiated various activities focused on ensuring sustainable environmental conditions in the basin. Notable among these is the protocol for sustainable development of the Lake Victoria Basin , under which “ the Partner States have agreed to cooperate in areas as they relate to the conservation and sustainable utilization of the resources of the basin” .

Other important ongoing initiatives include: the Lake Victoria Environmental Monitoring Programme, and the SIDA supported environmental initiative targeting communities in the basin.

The initiative on Meeting the MDG 's on Water and Sanitation in Secondary Urban Centres in the Lake Victoria Region, complements these initiatives and builds on previous programmes of UNHABITAT in the Lake region, notably the Urban Management Programme that supported City Development Strategies in 3 cities – Kisumu, Kampala and Musoma, with help provided by the Swedish International Development Agency.

R apid urbanization in many towns bordering the Lake Victoria is severely impacting on the lake water quality. Inaction today will make the cost of cleaning up much greater tomorrow. The water supply and sanitation provision in these towns also needs much greater attention if the MDGs are to be achieved in these towns by 2015.

The key objective of this initiative are twofold: first, to improve the water supply and sanitation coverage of the urban poor in these towns; and secondly, to arrest the increasing pollution of Lake Victoria from these towns.

In collaboration with Governments of the Partner States (Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda) UN-HABITAT has already completed a rapid appraisal of the current status of water and sanitation provision in 30 small and medium towns in the Lake Victoria region, 10 in each country. Based on the initial assessment, we have now prepared investment plans, initially for 5 towns in each country. A more detailed presentation of the findings of our study will be made later this afternoon.

Our report indicates that a very modest investment of $50 per capita could go a long way to rehabilitate the water and sanitation infrastructure in these towns. The expected impacts of this investment are clearly indicated in the report which is already made available to you. We hope that within a period of three years this investment could be recovered and the operation could be self-sustained.

Let me finally extend my appreciation to you all for having made time to come and participate in this session.

Thank you

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