Committee investigates why fewer than half EU-funded projects for safe drinking water in Africa deliver results

18 June 2013

The House of Lords European Sub-Committee on External Affairs will hear from Lynne Featherstone, Minister at the Department for International Development (DfID), as part of its new investigation into EU-funded water and sanitation projects in sub-Saharan Africa.

An audit of the European Union’s programme which provides water aid to sub-Saharan African countries (known as the WASH programme) found that fewer than half of the 23 sampled projects satisfactorily ‘delivered results that met the beneficiaries’ needs’.

The 2012 audit by the European Court of Auditors (ECA) also found that many projects were not technically, financially or institutionally sustainable.  Following correspondence with the Government, the Committee believes the matter should be investigated further.

The Committee will ask DfID Minister Lynne Featherstone why she believes the success rate of the EU programme is so low, and what practical and constructive suggestions the UK can make to improve it.

The Committee will also ask a range of questions, such as:

  • Why has the EU found it difficult to ensure the financial sustainability of projects?
  • Why did the UK take the decision in 2012 not contribute to the EU WASH programmes managed by the EU’s Water Facility?
  • How is DfID working to ensure that there is a strong EU position in this sector in the post 2015 development framework?
  • In the absence of regular ECA reports on the sector, how will monitoring of the EU’s WASH programmes be conducted in the future?

Committee Chairman, Lord Tugendhat, said:

“The right to safe drinking water and sanitation is an essential part of a decent standard of living, and that is why the EU’s WASH programme is a vital part of its development work.

“While it is heartening to see that EU support has increased access to drinking water and basic sanitation, the Committee is concerned that fewer than half of the projects audited delivered satisfactory results. The ECA audit also raises worrying concerns about the long-term sustainability of EU-funded projects, where there is clearly room for improvement.”

Written evidence can still be submitted to the Committee, and must be received by Friday 5 July.

The evidence session will take place on Thursday 20 June at 10.05am in Committee Room 1.

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