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Kigali, 26 Feb 07

UN-HABITAT announced on Monday that it will extend its Water for African Cities Programme to help provide water and sanitation services for people living in the country’s slums and other poor neighbourhoods.

The announcement was made following the signing of a memorandum by Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, UN-HABITAT’s Executive Director, and Mr. Bikoro Munyanganizi, Minister of State in charge of Water and Mines, in the capital Kigali on 22 February. During a day-long visit that coincided with the 2007 International Women’s Parliamentary Conference, Mrs. Tibaijuka also held talks with President Paul Kagame.

They aim of the programme in Rwanda will be to upgrade water and sanitation services for the urban poor in Kigali, and look at new ways financing local water and sanitation initiatives. They said they would monitor progress on Millennium Development Goal 7, Target 10 for improved water and sanitation. UN-HABITAT’s Water for African Cities programme will also be taken into schools to provide classes on water conservation, publicly promoted to ensure people are better informed, and promote the special needs of women in all water and sanitation programmes.

The Water for African Cities Programme is currently running in 17 cities across 13 countries in Africa – Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.

Mrs. Tibaijuka explained to the parliamentary conference how basic infrastructure services, particularly water and sanitation, could improve the lives of the poor, especially women.

“I urge the parliamentarians to push for the establishment of housing and urban development committees in their respective legislative bodies and assemblies in order to review existing laws on housing land and property rights, as well as policies and strategies for ensuring access to credit by the poor, and by women in particular” she said. “I also invite the World Bank and the African Development Bank present here today to join forces with UN-HABITAT and our sister agencies in supporting this endeavour.”

The Executive Director also held talks with Mr. Donald Kaberuka, President of the African Development Bank. They discussed collaboration on a joint initiative to improve water and sanitation in 15 specially selected towns off the coast of Lake Victoria. Known as the Lake Victoria Water and Sanitation Initiative, it is aimed at helping people in the three countries bordering the lake, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, get better services, especially those with diseases like AIDS, and households headed by orphans.

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