Opening Remarks of Dr Shin Young-soo, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific, at the WHO-AusAID Phase 3 Initiation Meeting

WHO Regional Office, Manila
17 September 2012

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

Good morning. It is a pleasure to welcome you to the Regional Office for the Western Pacific.

I would especially like to welcome representatives from AusAID and the Asian Development Bank.

As you know, I have been closely following the work on water safety. Access to safe water is fundamental for the prevention of disease and essential to improving the health of vulnerable groups, especially mothers and children.

A safe water supply is not a luxury. It is a basic human right.

I would like to express our appreciation to AusAID for your far-sighted decision to support to this programme.

The successful WHO/AusAID Water Quality Partnership grew out of a mutual desire to reduce the global disease burden and outbreaks caused by contaminated water supplies.

Our partnership began with a call for a more active approach to water quality management with health-based targets.

We also stressed water safety planning and quality surveillance.

We first promoted this approach in 2006 in the third edition of the Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality.

This management approach focuses on monitoring and maintaining the water supply system to ensure safe water, rather than only focusing on monitoring water quality.

In the first phase of the partnership, we developed tools to help water suppliers understand water safety planning.

We worked to build capacity to use these tools in countries in the Asia–Pacific region.

Phase 2 supported the six best-qualified countries from the first phase to scale up the introduction of water safety plans through policy and institutional development, among other steps.

Phase 3 is now just starting. We are looking to mainstream water safety plans in the six most experienced countries — namely Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Nepal, the Philippines and Viet Nam — so that sustainable water safety planning becomes a standard operating practice.

Phase 3 also seeks to extend water safety planning practices to other countries — including Cambodia, Indonesia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Samoa, Timor Leste, Tonga and Vanuatu.

Beyond our country-specific work, WHO and AusAID have tried to work at the regional and global levels to advocate water safety planning and best practices.

We have developed manuals to assist with implementation and surveillance as well as cross-cutting issues, such as training, impact assessment and certification.

We also offer guidance on investment budgeting and planning processes. On that front, we look forward to closer cooperation in the future with ADB to include water safety concerns in asset management and investment planning for infrastructure development.

With our partners, we hope to focus increasingly on sustainable development programmes that make a real difference in people’s lives — like access to safe water.

Thank you.

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