Algeria: European Union supports UNHCR to continue water distribution to Sahrawi refugees


The United Nations Refugee Agency, UNHCR, welcomes a contribution of € 600,000 from the European Union (EU) for essential humanitarian assistance to Sahrawi refugees in the five refugee camps in Tindouf province, in south-western Algeria. “It is a priority for the EU to ensure all Sahrawi refugees have access to safe water for domestic use. Sufficient water to maintain minimum levels of hygiene, allowing for frequent handwashing, is more than ever needed with the threat of coronavirus still looming. EU is fully committed to continue supporting Sahrawi refugees,” said Patrick Barbier, Head of EU Humanitarian Aid Operations in Algeria.

The EU is a long-standing and active humanitarian donor in the camps. It supports the lifesaving humanitarian activities of many UN and partner organizations in various domains, from food assistance and health to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). “UNHCR would like to thank the EU for their ongoing support to the Sahrawi refugee population, particularly in the supply of potable water for the Sahrawi community,” said UNHCR Representative Agostino Mulas. “This significant contribution, in the water sector, is so crucial as water is essential for a people living in the desert, especially in the summer months, when water is harder to get and needed in greater amounts.”

WASH services and infrastructure are being improved in the Tindouf camps. UNHCR provides about 700,000 m3 of safe water per year by continuously operating and maintaining existing water facilities, installing new ones, and monitoring the water quality.
UNHCR is still striving to reach the target of 20 litres per person per day.

UNHCR’s five-year WASH strategy, developed with Oxfam, includes a study for the development of the water pipeline network to reduce the need for water trucking. In order to be able to fully implement the WASH strategy UNHCR is searching for additional funding as for a number of years the works on the new infrastructure will have to go in parallel with the existing water trucking.

For its 2020 programme, UNHCR Algeria is currently 44% funded, with approximately US$ 16.6 M received out of a total US$ 37.4 M required.

Russell Fraser Tindouf, Algeria

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