USAID lists PH among priority countries for water, sanitation grants
MANILA, Philippines—The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has included the Philippines among 21 high-priority countries for financial and technical assistance for water and sanitation projects.
In a Nov. 15 statement, USAID said the Philippines, Guatemala, Rwanda and Zambia were added to the original 17 high-priority countries during fiscal year 2021.
Fiscal year 2022 high-priority countries still included the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique, Nepal, Nigeria, Senegal, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda.
“Aligned with the requirements in the Water for the World Act of 2014, these partner-countries will be the primary focus of the US government’s investments to build a more water-secure world amid ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, climate crisis, and conflict,” USAID said.
The forthcoming USAID grants would cover initiatives promoting safe and resilient water, hygiene, as well as sanitation.
“The world remains off-track to achieve the sustainable development goals (SDGs) for water and sanitation, with nearly two billion people expected to still lack access to even basic water by 2030,” USAID said.
“The designation of these high-priority countries seeks to help close that gap, with the majority of those forecast to be left behind without even basic water access living in these 21 countries,” it added.
“This prioritization ensures that USAID’s investments on behalf of the American taxpayer will have significant, measurable impact,” the agency said.
“USAID will work with governments, civil society, faith-based organizations, and the private sector in these high-priority countries to accelerate water security and advance resilience, prosperity, and stability,” it said.
Since 2017 when the US government launched its global water strategy, USAID’s financial aid allowed 15.5 million people to have access to sustainable drinking water on top of 14.8 million people who can now access sustainable sanitation worldwide, the aid agency said.
At an online seminar organized by the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (Finex) on Tuesday (Nov. 16), the state planning agency National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) sought private sector participation to fill the financing gap in P1.07 trillion in total investments needed to implement the Philippine water supply and sanitation master plan.
“The government can’t do it alone. We value partnerships” to ensure steady supply of clean and safe water as well as quality sanitation facilities, Assistant Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Roderick Planta said.
The largest sources of investment requirements for water and sanitation in the next 10 years were commercial and development loans, Planta said, as budget financing by the national government lagged behind.
Planta noted that on average, budgetary investments for water and sanitation accounted for only 0.15 percent of the yearly national budget, equivalent to merely 0.7 percent of the annual infrastructure budget or just 0.03 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).
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