- This new €14 million Global Gateway investment in infrastructure will improve the water network in and around the São Tomé capital, boost the country’s resilience against climate change, and help empower women and girls.
- Three out of four people on the Central African island of São Tomé will have improved access to drinking water.
- A €8.44 million loan from the European Investment Bank, guaranteed by the EU, is complemented by a €5.56 million EU investment grant and expert advice.
At the United Nations (UN) 5th Conference for Least Developed Countries (LDC5), the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Union (EU) announced new Team Europe support of €14 million to improve the water network on the island of São Tomé. The project, which is part of the EU’s Global Gateway strategy, is expected to bring economic, social and environmental benefits for the country and the communities concerned.
More efficient water distribution will help to strengthen the island against the effects of climate change, such as variable rainfall. Managing increasingly limited freshwater resources has become an urgent challenge for small island developing states as growing demand confronts more unpredictable weather patterns. The project will contribute to better health by the provision of clean water, reducing water-borne diseases. The project is a strategic priority for São Tomé and will be managed by the country’s power and water company Empresa de Água e Eletricidade (EMAE).
The project will substantially improve the level of service to existing users of the water distribution network, but also aims to connect a further 25,000 people, who currently do not have direct access. Households connected to the water network will no longer have to collect water elsewhere, freeing families – usually women and girls – from a time-consuming chore.
Access to clean water and sanitation (the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 6) is recognised as fundamental to good health. Healthy people are more able to study and work, which in turn leads to higher productivity and economic growth.
“As part of the EU’s Global Gateway strategy, at EIB Global we aim to work with our partners, like São Tomé, to address their most pressing challenges with sustainable financing,” said Thomas Östros, Vice-President of the European Investment Bank.“This project, which connects communities to clean water – in some cases for the first time – will have an important impact. It will improve people’s health and quality of life, it will boost resilience to climate change and help protect the environment. And, crucially, access to clean water can bring new opportunities, particularly for women and girls.”
Jutta Urpilainen, European Commissioner for International Partnerships, said, “This €14 million Global Gateway investment from Team Europe will support São Tomé in improving its water infrastructure and increasing its climate change resilience. I am particularly pleased about its health and gender impacts; access to clean water supports fulfilment of other fundamental rights. This investment is Global Gateway in action and advancing sustainable development on all its dimensions.”
“The financial support will allow us to move forward with this important project. Guaranteeing sustainable access to clean water for all is a strategic priority for São Tomé,” commented Ginésio Valentim Afonso da Mata, Minister of Planning, Finance and Blue Economy. “Increasing pressure on our water resources as a result of climate change means that we need to act now.”
“The project is just the kind of thing we will do more of under the European Union’s Global Gateway initiative. São Tome, like many of the countries gathered here, stands on the frontline of climate change. This is also a region where managing freshwater resources is a key challenge. This project demonstrates our commitment to support our partners and accompany them on their path to development,” added Rosario Bento Pais, Ambassador of the European Union to Gabon, São Tomé and Príncipe, and the Economic Community of Central African States.
The 5thUnited Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries is taking place in Doha, Qatar, between 5 and 9 March. The conference, held every ten years, brings together world leaders, civil society, the private sector and young people to address the specific challenges faced by LDCs. It aims to accelerate international support and investment to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.