x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

UAE aims to give five million people access to clean water

The UAE Suqia (an Arabic word which means providing water to drink) campaign will work closely with the UAE Red Crescent to dig wells, build reservoirs, and provide water treatment facilities.

DUBAI // The UAE will spend Dh125 million on a Ramadan gift to the world, aiming to provide clean drinking water to five million people.

The UAE Suqia campaign – launched by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai – will work with Emirates Red Crescent to dig wells and build reservoirs and water-treatment plants.

The campaign begins on Saturday, according to state news agency WAM.

“We have already begun some of the foundation work in Pakistan, and Erbil in Iraq,” said Mohammed Al Zaroni, head of the Red Cresent’s Dubai branch. “The Erbil project is a big one, which we estimate will help more than 100,000 people.

“We hope to have the project completed in about a week.” Mr Al Zaroni said the charity would then start drilling wells in Somalia.

“Water is the source of life. Nothing you do can be successful if there is no water,” he said.

“We have a number of countries on our list that we will be helping with water aid, including Kenya, Niger, Togo, Djibouti, Ethiopia and others,” said Mr Al Zaroni.

Organisers would not go into detail about costs as they vary from one country to another, depending on the conditions and requirements.

But they estimated that on average every Dh1m donated would aid 40,000 people. To achieve the five million target the campaign would need to collect Dh125m.

From 2009 to last year, the UAE spent more than Dh1 billion in water aid to 61 countries around the world, with the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development accounting for just over half of that figure.

Afghanistan received more than Dh231m for drinking water projects in that time.

The World Health Organisation says that every year more than 3.4 million people die from water-related diseases, making it the leading cause of disease and death around the world.

About 1 million people walk more than 10 kilometres to get clean water every day.

UN statistics show 783 million people do not have access to clean water and almost 2.5 billion do not have access to adequate sanitation.

malkhan@thenational.ae