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World Water Day
the EU helps more than 32 million people to gain access to safe drinking water

To celebrate World Water Day 2012, the European Commission releases the video "More than Water" which shows concrete results of the EU-ACP Water Facility to provide access to drinking water in the Himba villages in the north of Namibia.

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The project in Namibia is only one of the 272 projects which have been supported by the ACP-EU Water Facility between 2004 and 2012. This is a mechanism established by the EU to co-finance water, hygiene, sanitation and water governance projects in the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific countries. This facility is made possible from 700 millions from the European Commission and a 12 millions euro grant from the Spanish government.

People living in the Himbas village in the North of Namibia didn't have access to clean, safe drinking water but thanks to the ACP-EU Water Facility programme their conditions improved. Mrs. Jakurama Tjiposa from Umuangete village was one of the people benefiting from this project, she said: "before we didn't know why we got sick, we couldn't relate sickness to what we ate or drank. Now, we don't get sick as often as before and the children now get fewer diarrheas". The ACP-EU Water Facility has provided access to drinking water, improved sanitation and better hygiene practices for millions of people throughout the world.

The ACP-EU Water Facility is one of the first results of the European Union Water Initiative (EUWI). The initiative, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, is an international policy partnership that has successfully helped to improve access to water across the world and to put water at the heart of development policies. An interactive map on the ACP-EU Water Facility shows a sample of projects funded by the facility to provide access to safe drinking water and improve sanitation and hygiene practices.

Interactive map

Overall, the European Commission has already helped more than 32 million people to gain access to improved water supply and more than 9 million people to sanitation facilities since 2004. Building on the achievements of the EU Water Initiative and the EU-ACP water facility, the EU will continue to support international cooperation and to promote innovative approaches reinforcing the link between water and other sectors such as agriculture and energy.

The 10th anniversary of the European Water Initiative comes at the same time as the international community can celebrate that the Millennium Development Goal on sustainable access to drinking water has been achieved, five years before the deadline of 2015. However, the remaining Millennium Development Goals(MDGs) especially sanitation, remain off-track and the EU will intensify its efforts to achieve the goals on time.

European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, shared the results of the European Water Initiative at the World Water Forum in Marseille on 15 March 2012. “Providing access to water and better managing this scarce resource helps us to reduce poverty and achieve sustainable development. I am pleased to see that, also thanks to strong EU support, we have managed to achieve one of the first MDGs. However, much work remains to be done as still more than 3000 children die every day because they drink dirty water. We will continue our efforts on the water-related MDGs, building on the achievements of the EU Water Initiative so far," he said.


Worldwide, over 780 million people do not have access to safe drinking water, 330 million of these live in sub-Saharan Africa.  More than 2.5 billion people are still without adequate sanitation. Over 4000 children under five–years-old die every day from diseases associated to the lack of access to clean drinking water.

Progress has been made. The Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving by 2015 the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water has been reached, although the respective target for access to sanitation is seriously off track, especially in Africa.

The report, Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation 2012 , by the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation, says at the end of 2010 89% of the world’s population, or 6.1 billion people, used improved drinking water sources. This result passes the threshold of 88% that was set up as an MDG target. However, the sanitation MDG still remains off track with 63% of people having access to improved sanitation (against the aim of 75% by 2015).

EU actions on Water

Since 2000, the EU has been committed to meeting the Millennium Development Goal of better access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.

The European Union Water Initiative was launched in Johannesburg at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in September 2002. The initiative involves the EU and partner regions (donors, governments, civil society and the private sector). The EU, as the world largest donor, leads the way to provide access to sanitation to most vulnerable people on the plant.

 In its recent "Agenda for Change" for development policy, the Commission stresses that new policies should tackle inequalities and in particular give poor people better access to land, water and energy without harming the environment. The European Commission has committed around €3 billion overall to activities related to water and sanitation projects between 2003 and 2010. During this period, the EU development assistance to the water and sanitation sector has almost tripled.

More information

Last update: 22/05/2012 | Top