Accra, Nov. 26, GNA - Ghana has been selected as one of eight African countries to benefit from the first phase of the implementation of a one billion-Euro Africa, European Union Water Initiative (A-EUWI). The first phase of the project, which is aimed at bringing 77 African-Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries to the same level of progress in the water and sanitation related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), is worth 500 million Euros out of which 250 million Euros has been released.
Mr Antoine Saintraint, Second Secretary in charge of Water and Sanitation of the EU Delegation in Ghana, said Ghana stood the chance of receiving all the 250 million Euros provided it was able to present the best proposals for each aspect of the first phase.
He was speaking at a day's A-EUWI Country Dialogue convened by the Water Directorate of the Ministry of Works and Housing (MWH) to serve as the first of a series of forums aimed at putting together a credible proposal for the EUWI before the January 17, 2005 deadline.
The A-EUWI is the aspect of the EUWI specifically focused on the uniform progress of water and sanitation related MDGs in Africa. It was signed between African Heads of State and the Heads of State of the European Union and European Commission during the August 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa. Saintraint told Journalists that there was no restriction on how much each participating country could get, as the money would be issued on merit over a period two years.
He said each country's proposal would be required to contain features relevant to high quality water governance, awareness creation about water management and investment in hardware water facilities.
"The first 250 million Euros is available for all the 77 ACP countries, but the eight African countries selected to present proposals by January 17, 2005 would have a first shot at it."
They include Ghana, Zambia, Rwanda, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Congo Brazzaville, Ethiopia and Mozambique," he said.
Mr Saintraint said the period for the second phase, which was also worth 500 million Euros, would depend on the success of the first phase.
"The deadline for the presentation of the first proposal, which must focus on national investment into water delivery facilities is January 17, 2005. Beyond this date all proposals would not be acceptable."
In a presentation, Mr Eric Buhl-Nielsen, Facilitator of the Project, said the EUWI was not meant to be an additional initiative but to harmonize and anchor existing initiatives such as the World Bank Water Resource Programme, NEPAD Water Programme and the African Ministers Council on Water (AMCOW) for the achievement of the water and sanitation related MDGs.
He noted that it had been identified that the chunk of aid flow from the EU to Africa went into sectors such as education, health and roads, with water relegated to the background.
"In several African communities, many projects which benefited from EU aid remain either unused of under utilised, while the people in the community lacked potable water."
Mr Buhl-Nielsen said available statistics in the Poverty Reduction Strategy Programmes (PRSP) on the progress on water related MDGs in ACP countries, especially in Africa, indicated that most of the countries were lagging behind greatly.
In addition, most of the countries, including Ghana, invested very little resources dedicated to poverty reduction project on water. Ghana for instance had spent only 3.6 per cent of Poverty Reduction Projects Funds on water since the inception of the MDGs.
He said the objective of the EUWI was to reinforce political commitment to and raise the profile of water and sanitation issues in ACP countries, promote better water governance arrangement, improve co-ordination and cooperation in the development and implementation of water related interventions.
It is also to encourage regional and sub-regional cooperation on water management issues, catalyse additional funding and create a multi-stakeholder forum by fostering co-operation among water related nongovernmental organisation (NGOs), private sector organisations and pubic sector organisations in the ACP countries and between them and their counterparts in the EU countries.
Mr Emmanuel Nkrumah, Member of the AMCOW Technical Advisory Committee, said EUWI was meant to ultimately create a uniform continental programme of action that would prevent conflicting programmes and ensure that in the implementation of projects, each country benefited equally every step of the way.
He said Zambia was the first to present their proposal for the funds, but Ghana stood the chance of overtaking Zambia since Ghana had an anchor in the Water Directorate of the MWH, as three Zambian Sector Ministries struggled over whom to anchor the project.