April 3, 2008

Subsidised water connections for the urban poor

The Mozambican government and the World Bank have signed an agreement in Maputo under which the Bank will channel six million US dollars to the government's Water Supply Investment and Assets Fund (FIPAG) intended to increase access to water supply for low income households in five Mozambican cities (Maputo, Beira, Quelimane, Nampula and Pemba). The World Bank signed the agreement in its capacity as administrator of the funds of the "Global Partnership on Output-Based Aid - GPOBA". These funds come from the governments of Britain, Holland, Australia, and Switzerland, as well as from the World Bank itself. The money will provide 29.000 subsidized connections to the piped water network, benefiting 468.000 people, who will now have water taps in their back yards.

Normally, poor families would not be able to pay for such a connection, which costs between 4.000 and 6.000 meticais (between 160 and 240 US dollars). But under this scheme, each household will only be asked to contribute 10 per cent of the value of the connection. Speaking at the signing ceremony, the Minister of Public Works, Felicio Zacarias, pointed out that poor families, who are not connected to the conventional piped water network, end up paying a high price for their water (since they are forced to buy it from privately-owned sources). He said the government took as its first priority for urban water supply rehabilitating the infrastructures and increasing their productive capacity. Now it was able to direct its attentions to poor households living in peri-urban areas, to ensure that they too could benefit from the improvements in supply. "We are now able to deal in an objective manner with the more vulnerable and lower income segment of the population", said Zacarias. In addition to the subsidized connection, these households would only pay a "social tariff" for their water, since they would be in the lowest consumption bracket. (Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique, Maputo)

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