Norway will grant UN-HABITAT’s Water and Sanitation Trust Fund nearly US$ 7 million in 2005 to help alleviate the water and sanitation crisis confronting millions of slum dwellers across Africa and Asia.
Norway’s contribution to the Water and Sanitation Trust Fund began in 2003 with an initial contribution of US$280,000. This was followed by a commitment announced by Norway’s Minister of International Development, Ms. Hilde Johnson that Oslo would contribute US$ 6.9 million for 2005, as well as additional regular financing of around $1.5 million per year to the fund. So far, the total Norwegian contribution to the fund stands at approximately $1.8million.
The Trust Fund has helped UN-HABITAT forge strategic partnership arrangements with the African Development Bank and the Asian Development Bank, promoting pro-poor investments in urban areas through its Water for Cities Programme in Africa and Asia. Thirteen African countries – Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Tanzania, Zambia, Ethiopia, Uganda, Mozambique and Mali are currently involved in the programme.
Norwegian contribution to the Fund has also supported the development of the Lake Victoria Region Water and Sanitation Initiative. Under the initiative, secondary urban centers in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda will get grant support to help them extend water and sanitation service coverage ultimately helping them meet Target 10 of the Millennium Development Goals which is committed to halving the number of people living without clean water and adequate sanitation. Initially, the programme will cover five urban centres in each of the three countries with a total population of nearly 1 million. A rapid appraisal carried out by UN-HABITAT indicates that with a modest investment in expansion and rehabilitation of existing water and sanitation facilities, of approximately at $50 per person, water and sanitation related MDGs could be achieved in these towns within 2 to 3 years.
Through the Norwegian contribution to the fund, the similar Mekong Regional Initiative is being developed in Asia. It will help provide improved water and sanitation delivery in Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand and Yunan Province in China.
In a letter to Ms. Johnson, Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, the Executive Director of UN-HABITAT, thanked her for Oslo’s support, citing “the confidence you have placed in us to help deliver water, sanitation and other basic services, to support the poor and to help alleviate their suffering and misery.”