The World Bank (WB) announced on Saturday a $300m loan for complementing the current Sustainable Rural Sanitation Services Programme, to support the expansion of the government’s efforts to increase access to and improve rural sanitation services in Egypt’s poorest governorates.
The original $550m programme was launched in 2015, in support of the government’s National Rural Sanitation Programme (NRSP), which aims to guarantee good quality sanitation services for a rural population of around 50 million Egyptians.
The initial WB programme focused on the priorities of connecting households near important waterways to improved sanitation systems, and decentralising sanitation services to improve their quality by making them more accountable to citizens.
The programme has so far supported the launch of a performance-based grant system for local water and sanitation companies and made significant progress towards the initial goal of connecting 167,000 rural households, or 833,000 Egyptians. The additional financing will scale-up the programme to build on the momentum towards the decentralisation of sanitation services and more than double the goal to 345,000 households, or around 1,710,000 people. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is co-financing the scaled-up programme with $300m.
“Ensuring that every Egyptian has access to good quality sanitation services is a national priority,’’ said Sahar Nasr, Egypt’s minister of investment and international cooperation who also represents Egypt on the WB’s board of governors.
“Our partnership with the World Bank through this programme is providing vital support for reaching this goal. Good sanitation is critical for protecting the health of our population, Egypt’s most precious resource, and ensuring that we can all live full, productive lives,” added Nasr.
While almost 90% of urban households are connected to sanitation services, the figure drops to 18% in rural areas. The programme aims to help overcome this disparity by empowering local water and sewer companies and strengthening their relationship with their customers. The programme has supported the establishment of systems that allows local citizens to provide feedback on decision takes by local companies, as strengthening accountability both improves the quality of services and ensures that investments are in line with local priorities.
“Making sure everyone has equal access to key services is essential for inclusive growth and shared prosperity,” said Samia Msadek , acting World Bank Country director for Egypt, Yemen, and Djibouti, adding, “this is, especially true for services that affect the health and well-being of the population, which Egypt has recognised with the launch of its ambitious project. We are proud to support these efforts, with the conviction that investments in the health and education of people, in human capital, is the most important, long-term investment a country can make.”
The additional financing will also support the construction or upgrading of wastewater treatment facilities to appropriate standards. The programme will rely on local water and sanitation companies for both the household connections and the construction of sanitation infrastructure. The aim is to further empower local water and sanitation companies by strengthening their operational and financial performance, and ultimately improving the sustainability of the national sanitation system.
“The programme aims at strengthening the performance of the sector’s institutional approach to service delivery,’’ said Osama Hamad, World Bank Lead Water and Sanitation specialist and team leader of the programme, adding, “not only will the operation alleviate the health and economic burdens inflicted upon citizens by contaminated water, it will also ensure the sector’s sustainability and guarantee that citizens have uninterrupted access to a fundamental public service.’’
The WB finances programmes and projects to help Egypt reduce poverty and boost shared prosperity. The focus of the bank’s support includes social safety nets, energy, transport, rural water and sanitation, agriculture and irrigation, housing, health care, job creation, and financing for micro and small enterprises.
The World Bank currently has a portfolio of 16 projects with a total commitment of $6.69bn