WATERAID PRESS RELEASE For immediate release 29 January 2015 -- WaterAid today welcomes the African Union’s official launch of the Kigali Action Plan, a 50-million euro agreement that will bring drinking water to 5 million Africans and sanitation to 5 million across 10 countries. The action plan has come as UN enters final negotiations on the next 15-year blueprint for development in the Sustainable Development Goals. The present draft includes a dedicated goal on water and sanitation. The programme, agreed with the African Development Bank and led by the government of Rwanda, is designed to make water and sanitation programmes a higher priority in national spending across the continent. Ten nations are targeted in this action plan: Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Lesotho and Mauritania. This much needed initiative is expected to accelerate the provision of safe water and sanitation in countries such as Sierra Leone and Liberia, where such services play a critical role in the fight against Ebola. All but two of the targeted countries -- Lesotho and Mauritania -- are considered fragile states. The 24th African Union Summit, which closes on 31 January, comes as the United Nations works on final negotiations on the Sustainable Development Goals, which will serve as a blueprint for development over the next 15 years. WaterAid with its partner organisations has called for a strong, dedicated goal on water and sanitation for all, as well as the inclusion of water, sanitation and hygiene in goals on education and health to recognise their critical role in helping children survive to adulthood and stay in school, and in helping communities become healthier and more productive. The Common African Position on these new goals includes recommendations for people-centred development, environmental sustainability, natural resource management and disaster risk management. Achieving access to clean water, sanitation and good hygiene practice for all is a critical element of these recommendations. Lydia Zigomo, Head of East Africa Region for WaterAid, said: "The growth trajectory of Africa means most of our countries share a vision of reaching middle income status in coming years. Accelerating the provision of water, sanitation and hygiene is key to this vision, because they affect all areas of development, especially health and education." WaterAid applauds the political action, leadership and commitment that have made this plan possible. It is a bridge to the coming Sustainable Development Goals, highlighting that the progress made in water and sanitation needs to continue until everyone has access by 2030. This initiative is being led by His Excellency Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda, reflecting the country’s rapid progress in delivering water and sanitation. In 1990, by WHO and UNICEF measures, only 30% of Rwanda’s population had basic toilets and 60% had clean water. In 2013, that number had risen to 64% with basic toilets and nearly 71% with access to clean water. Rwanda is also one of few African nations to have met the Millennium Development Goal target of halving the proportion of its people without access to sanitation. Key to Rwanda’s success has been empowering communities, strong political will and accountability of service providers and governments in water and sanitation, which have been held up as examples for other Sub-Saharan African nations as they confront their own challenges. In the Dakar Declaration of May 2014, African nations called for a dedicated Sustainable Development Goal on water and sanitation as key to ending this crisis. ENDS Notes to Editors WaterAid’s vision is of a world where everyone has access to safe water and sanitation. The international organisation works in 26 countries across Africa, Asia, Central America and the Pacific Region to transform lives by improving access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation in some of the world’s poorest communities. Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 21 million people with safe water and, since 2004, 18 million people with sanitation. For more information, visit www.wateraid.org, follow @WaterAid or @WaterAidPress on Twitter, or visit us on Facebook. Around 1,400 children die every day from diseases caused by dirty water and poor sanitation. 748 million people are without safe water, or one in 10 in the world. 2.5 billion people are without adequate sanitation, or 39% of the world's population. For more information or to arrange interviews please contact Carolynne Wheeler, media officer, on C[email protected] or +44 (0) 207 793 4485, or [email protected], or Fiona Callister, media relations lead, on [email protected] or +44 (0)207 793 5022. Or call our after-hours press line on +44 (0)7887 521 552.