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Australia has pledged to continue supporting water and sanitation projects in Southern African countries as part of efforts to improve the health of citizens in the region.

Australian Ambassador to Zimbabwe Ms Suzanne McCourt (pictured right)told delegates at a Southern African regional workshop to review the Water Sanitation and Hygiene Fund (WASH) projects held in Harare recently that her country would focus on rehabilitation of water infrastructure to prevent deaths from water-related diseases.

“We look forward to continuing our support of your programmes and projects in Southern Africa,” she said.

“Improved access to water and sanitation also makes g economic sense and enables increased productivity.”

Zimbabwe and other Sadc countries are benefiting from Australia’s WASH programmes supported through GIZ, Unicef and the African Development Bank.

Zimbabwe received $9,5 million from the ADB to rehabilitate water and sanitation infrastructure in major cities and towns.

This has resulted in improved access to safe water and improved sanitation for the urban poor in Zimbabwe.

Ambassador McCourt said the Australian aid programme for WASH would run until the 2017 – 2018 period.

Mozambique and Zambia have also benefited from the WASH programme.

Ms McCourt said access to clean water and safe sanitation had greatest impact on women and girls and also improved child school attendance.

Speaking at the same event, Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Permanent Secretary Mr Prince Mupazviriho said aid from Australia would go a long way in supporting ZimAsset, which also aims to enhance access to water and better sanitation.

He said rehabilitation, upgrading and development of key infrastructure and utilities comprising power generation, roads, rail, aviation and water were some of the fundamental targets of the economic blueprint.

“In the Unicef Small Towns (WASH) programme, Australian Aid has gone a long way in supporting Government efforts to achieve the aspirations of ZimAsset.” Mr Mupazviriho said.

The regional workshop drew more than 100 representatives from civil society organisations, local governments, ministries and donors.

The workshop sought to share experiences on water, sanitation and hygiene projects being implemented in Zimbabwe, Malawi, Lesotho and Mozambique.

The Australian funded project is set to benefit 1,2 million people in these countries.

In Africa, 340 million people still lack clean drinking water while more than 547 million lack access to basic sanitation.

The World Bank estimates that inadequate water and sanitation costs sub-Saharan Africa $40 billion per year in lost productivity.

Source : The Herald