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Development Account Projects

Strengthening the capacity of Governments' and water operators' to ensure equity of access to water and sanitation in countries in transition in the Economic Commission for Europe region, with a particular focus on small-scale water supplies and sanitation in rural areas

Background:

In the pan-European region 12 per cent of the population, nearly 110 million people, do not have access to safe drinking water or adequate sanitation. The situation is particularly severe in South-Eastern Europe, Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia. The lack of access to water and sanitation is compounded by inequity: vulnerable and marginalized groups often face specific barriers, such as the lack of affordability. Access to water and sanitation is also lower in rural areas compared to urban areas. In South-Eastern Europe, Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia more than 30 per cent of the total population live in rural areas, in which small-scale water supplies prevail. The provision of safe drinking water of sufficient quantity frequently represents a challenge to these small-scale water supplies. Experience has shown that they are more vulnerable to breakdown and contamination than larger utilities, and that they require particular political attention owing to their administrative, managerial or resourcing specifics.

In the Outcome document of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), entitled “The future we want”, Governments reiterated the importance of integrating water in sustainable development and underlined the critical importance of water and sanitation within the three dimensions of sustainable development. Governments also reaffirmed their commitments made in the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation and the Millennium Declaration regarding to halve by 2015 the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation (Millennium Development Goal 7).

The Protocol on Water and Health of ECE and the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Europe is the first international agreement of its kind adopted specifically to attain an adequate supply of safe drinking water and adequate sanitation for everyone through the sustainable management of water resources and the development of policies and measures focusing on the nexus between water and health. The Protocol provides a framework for the application of policy and measures to promote equitable access to water and sanitation. In the area of small-scale water supplies and sanitation, the Protocol promotes policy and measures aimed at increasing the safe management of such installations (e.g. risk management approaches, training of operators, improvement of water monitoring and disease surveillance).

The project is designed to provide support for the efforts of policymakers, decision makers and water operators in reviewing and, where appropriate, replicating existing approaches, and putting in place new or additional measures to ensure the universal access to water and sanitation, through the mobilization of resources from all sources, capacity-building and technology. The project is also intended to promote the integration of environmental and social considerations within the mainstream of economic decision-making as a prerequisite to paving the way towards a green economy.

Beneficiaries of the project will be countries with economies in transition in South-Eastern Europe, Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia (Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Serbia, Tajikistan and the Ukraine). Six of 12 proposed beneficiary countries are parties to the Protocol on Water and Health. All the other countries are envisaging accession and are currently at different stages of the process. The target stakeholder groups consist of national and local Government officials as well as water operators. The project will be executed by ECE, in collaboration with WHO Europe. WHO Europe will focus on the health-related aspects of the project, providing support for it with its expertise and network.

Objective:

To strengthen capacity of national and local authorities as well as water operators to develop policies and measures aimed at providing access to clean and safe drinking water and adequate sanitation in economies in transition in the ECE region, with a particular focus on small-scale water supplies and sanitation in rural areas

Expected accomplishments:

  • Improved capacity of national and local authorities in economies in transition in the ECE region to develop innovative policies and measures aimed at providing equitable access to water and sanitation, building on the Protocol on Water and Health
  • Improved capacity of national and local authorities as well as water operators in economies in transition in the ECE region to address the challenges of small-scale water supplies and sanitation in national and local development policies

Implementation status:

Summary of the progress report for 2014


The following activities have taken place/ are ongoing:

  • One country mission to review the situation in relation to access to water and sanitation and small scale water supplies and sanitation was organized in Belgrade, Serbia (8 December 2014). This was the first country missions (out of a total of 6 planned) and it was carried out jointly by the UNECE and WHO/Europe.
  • Information obtained during the mission stimulated fruitful discussions at the national workshop on the Protocol on Water and Health and target setting process (Belgrade, 9 December 2014).
  • The lessons learned from the first country mission will serve as a basis to develop the format of future consultations which will be tailored to each target country situation and needs.