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Homa Bay, Kenya, 29 Nov 04

Ms. Mutagamba addresses a Town Hall meeting in Kyotera, Uganda

UN-HABITAT Executive Director Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka last week led water ministers from the East African Community in high level Town Hall Meetings with stakeholders of the Lake Victoria Region Water and Sanitation Initiative.

The Lake Victoria Region Water and Sanitation Initiative aims to provide the necessary support to secondary urban centres in the region to enable them achieve Target 10 of Millennium Development Goal No. 7 - to halve by 2015, the number of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation. In this region, this means also reducing pollution levels of Africa's greatest lake.

Mrs Tibaijuka, Kenya’s Minister for Water, Ms. Martha Karua, Uganda’s Minister for State for Water Affairs, Ms. Maria Mutagamba and Tanzania’s Deputy Minister for Water and Livestock Development, Mr. Anthony Diallo, and UN-HABITAT officials held talks with politicians, mayors, councilors and members of the public.

Town Hall meetings were held in Bukoba and Muleba in Tanzania, Mutukula and Kyotera in Uganda, and Kisii and Homa Bay in Kenya. Mrs. Tibaijuka said UN-HABITAT had shown its commitment to water and sanitation in the region and that consumers had to reciprocate by supporting it. The Executive Director said she had met East African heads of state, who had assured her of their political support to the project.

She said UN-HABITAT was also supporting a similar initiative in the Mekong River Basin in Asia.

Ms. Karua said that although East African governments were committed in ensuring the provision of adequate and clean water to all, a lack of resources was making this objective difficult to achieve hence the gratefulness with which the governments embraced the UN-HABITAT initiative. The high level visits, she added, showed the importance governments attached to the initiative. She said those running the project should employ prudent management of funds and said the public should act as whistle blowers whenever they suspected any untoward dealings by officials.

Mr. Diallo noted that the region had high rainfall levels and appealed to residents to develop a culture of harvesting rain water, as water production costs were high and everything possible had to be done to bring this down. Ms. Mutagamba added that the initiative was important in bringing the people of the region together – an objective of the East African Community. For further information contact: lakevictoria@unhabitat.org


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