Written Answers. - Overseas Development.
17 Mrs. B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if Ireland Aid has proposals to address the issue of access to water which has to be bought in Ghana daily; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3747/02]
A key area for involvement by Ireland Aid, the Government's programme of assistance to poorer countries, is the provision of drinkable and accessible water. It is central to the provision of good health, especially among children. The absence of accessible and potable water has a huge and disproportionately negative effect on the lives of women, who, in the main, are responsible for walking the often very long distances to procure the water available.
The Irish bilateral programme has a particular geographic focus in eastern and southern Africa on six of the poorest countries of the world. All of them rate low on the United Nations development programmes' poverty index, the human development index. They are Ethiopia, which is listed as 158th out of 162, and Mozambique, which is number 157th. The list also includes poor countries like Zambia, Uganda, Tanzania and Lesotho.
Some consideration is being given to the possibility of increasing the number of country programmes. It is likely, however, that least developed poor countries adjacent to the current six will be looked at first. Notwithstanding the primary focus of the bilateral programme on these six countries, Ireland provides assistance to the work of NGOs and missionaries in a wide range of countries, including Ghana, in their work of improving the position of the poor, often in the provision of clean water, through its NGO co-financing programme.
In relation to Ghana, the Deputy may wish to be aware that Ireland Aid is currently examining an NGO co-financing proposal to address the water and sanitation needs of a number of communities in the western region of Ghana. The aim of the proposal is to reduce the incidence of illnesses and associated morbidity and mortality by using an integrated approach to sanitation, hygiene education and safe water provision.
This proposal, which deals in a comprehensive way with a very basic human need which is well recognised by Ireland Aid, has now received a positive initial appraisal and hence will be considered at the next meeting of the Ireland Aid NGO co-financing committee, which makes recommendations for ministerial decision.