About the Author: Philip Smucker serves as USAID Senior Development Outreach and Communications Director in Kabul, Afghanistan.
On Saturday, October 30, Afghan Minister Jarullah Mansoori came together with U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) partners to sign a crucial agreement to increase access to clean water and sanitation services in poor communities across Afghanistan.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) cements new Afghan measures to combat water-related diseases and improve access to potable water. The Sustainable Water Supply and Sanitation (SWSS) project is a services delivery tool of the government. The project will increase water supply, promote good hygiene and boost community awareness for the need for water conservation. The overall budget of the project is about 52 million USD over the course of three years.
Following a keynote speech by Minister Mansoori, U.S. Deputy Ambassador E. Anthony Wayne heralded the agreement as a new development focus for Afghanistan.
"I'm proud that the United States government is funding this important project and assisting the development of sustainable sources for clean drinking water -- as well as the accompanying sanitation facilities and hygiene education programs," said Wayne. "Increased access to potable water significantly reduces the incidence of infectious disease and contributes to a healthier and more prosperous society."
The project is for a period of three years during which time over 4,000 water points will be developed and some 50,000 latrines will be built or improved. In addition, some 50 water pipe schemes are to be constructed as part of the project. Even as Minister Mansoori, Ambassador Wayne and USAID Deputy Mission Director Robert Hellyer signed the memo, work on the project had already begun.