Access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation is a precondition for success in the fight against poverty, hunger, child deaths and gender inequality, and has taken on a renewed importance since COVID-19 emerged. Water system management is critical to establishing sustainable food systems, and Ireland will work to ensure that this is discussed at next year's Food Systems Summit.
The Government through Irish Aid supports efforts to improve governance of water and sanitation, especially where scarce and precious resources are under threat from climate change. This includes investing in irrigation and water system projects and climate-smart agricultural practices. This support is delivered through different development partners including: local and national Government agencies; Irish, international and local NGOs; and multilateral organisations.
This support includes working with local Government representatives in Mozambique to build new water systems, install water access points and rehabilitate existing boreholes as well as train community water committees to manage these resources. In Vietnam, Ireland has supported ethnic minority communities in 48 communes to improve access to basic services including water. In Gaza, Ireland is partnering with the French Development Agency to provide sustainable solar power to the North Gaza Emergency Sewage Treatment plant to reduce contamination of water aquifers and ensure adequate clean water.
Irish core support for UNICEF contributes to improved water supplies and sanitation facilities in schools and communities, and safe hygiene practices in 90 countries. In Sierra Leone, Irish Aid worked with UNICEF to ensure that hygiene facilities in approximately 100 schools were upgraded to facilitate safe reopening.
Also with Irish Aid support, Irish NGOs and missionary orders are working with communities and local governments in low-income countries to improve water supply systems for household consumption and for agriculture production.
Ireland supports the UN’s Global Environment Monitoring System for freshwater which is helping to build the capacity of developing countries to accurately monitor and report on water quality, including through a web based postgraduate diploma course in freshwater quality monitoring and assessment delivered by University College Cork.