Policies Concerning Water Supply and Sanitation (WSS) in the European Union (EU) Video

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  • 0:01 Scary Statistics
  • 1:22 The European Union's…
  • 3:11 Success Stories
  • 3:58 Looking Into the Future
  • 4:50 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Amy Troolin

Amy has MA degrees in History, English, and Theology. She has taught college English and religious education classes and currently works as a freelance writer.

In this lesson, we will study the European Union's policies dealing with water supply and sanitation. We will look especially at the Union's efforts to assist other nations in providing clean water and safe sanitation to their citizens.

Scary Statistics

How often do you grab a bottle of water and take a long slurp? Do you ever spend a few extra minutes in the shower? How many days per week do you water your lawn in dry weather? Do you ever think about the amount of water you use and waste on any given day?

Other people in the world certainly do because they lack clean, safe, accessible water. In fact, over 700 million people in 43 nations don't have access to reliable water supplies. Over 3.4 million people die every year because they don't have clean water to drink or proper sanitation services. Children especially feel the deprivation; they are dying at a shocking rate of 4,500 per day for lack of safe water and sanitation.

These are scary statistics, aren't they? Things we take for granted, like safe water and sanitation, are treasures worth more than gold to much of the world. But there is hope. The European Union has been joining together with other countries throughout the world to improve the water supply and sanitation systems of developing nations.

Millennium Development Goals

In 2000, the United Nations hosted the Millennium Summit and set goals to improve water and sanitation services throughout the world. The Millennium Development Goals aimed to cut the number of people lacking access to safe, clean drinking water by half. They also sought to cut the number of people lacking basic, safe sanitation services by half.

The European Union's Contribution 2004-2013

The European Union immediately committed itself to helping the UN meet these goals. It formed the Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) policy that covered the years 2004-2013 and was based on three guiding principles:

  1. To make sure that every person has enough good quality drinking water and adequate sanitation.
  2. To work to increase cooperation between countries so that water resources can easily move across national boundaries.
  3. To manage and coordinate water distribution throughout the public, private, energy, agricultural, business, and industrial sectors.

The Union established several programs to move these principles from theory into practice.

  • The European Water Initiative focused on coordinating water supply and sanitation improvement efforts in countries throughout the world, channeling finances, and promoting research.
  • The ACP-EU Water Facility invested particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, Caribbean nations, and Pacific countries, working with local governments and service providers to better manage water supplies and sanitation needs.
  • The EU-African Partnership on Infrastructure helped African regions manage and coordinate their water transportation needs across borders.
  • The MDG Initiative allocated an additional one billion Euros toward the fulfillment of the Millennium Development Goals.

These efforts and programs worked. During the 2004-2013 period, the European Union invested over 2.2 billion Euros into water and sanitation projects in over 60 countries. More than 70 million people acquired access to safe, clean drinking water, and more than 24 million people benefited from better sanitation services. By 2010, the Millennium Development Goals had been met.

Success Stories

The success stories are stunning. In Bolivia, for instance, through European Union aid, 167,000 residents received new connections to safe drinking water, over 135,000 inhabitants were connected to sanitation services, and 3 brand new wastewater treatment plants were built.

In Uganda, the Mid-Western Towns Water and Sanitation Project, sponsored by the European Union, provided 25,000 residents of three towns with access to clean, safe water. One resident rejoiced, exclaiming, 'Our water is safe to drink, so my family no longer suffers from diarrhea.' In Togo, European Union assistance provided new water pumps in the country, helped build water distribution systems in cities, and constructed sanitation facilities throughout the country.

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