Please find below a letter from Minister Fantino in response to the article published for the Watershed Sentinel by Miranda Holmes.
Contrary to the disingenuous and misleading insinuations made by Miranda Holmes, let there be no doubt that bringing
clean drinking water and basic sanitation to the developing world is important to our Government. Canada is making strides in improving the management and delivery of water and sanitation in many parts of the developing world. Canada uses an approach focused on achieving results, and through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), uses any and all legitimate tools available to move people from poverty to prosperity. In the case of our partnerships with the private sector, it is worth noting that those, too, are helping to bring more clean water to the people who need it. In Ghana, for example, a project with World University Services Canada and Rio Tinto Alcan is providing 134,000 residents in mining communities with access to a quality education and to clean water, in addition to enabling 400 youth to get the technical skills they need to achieve high-paying jobs in the mine.
Moreover, in the past year alone, we have accomplished much in improving access to clean water. In Ghana, we helped build 250 dams, and dugouts that delivered a secure water supply for families and farmers in rural parts of the country. In Honduras, we provided nearly 24,000 people in 29 communities with access to safe, drinkable water. In North Africa, we supported the Nile Basin Initiative, which launched a common database to share critical information for the optimal use of Nile water resources. This enables the Nile’s nine basin countries to manage the river’s water resources in a collaborative way that reduces regional tensions and mobilizes large-scale water infrastructure investments.
Periods of intense drought in the Horn of Africa in 2011 and in Africa’s Sahel region in 2012 reminded us yet again of the vital importance that water plays in helping to set the health, agricultural, social and economic foundations that allow people and societies to thrive. When the drought took hold, millions in Africa saw their lives and livelihoods threatened. That is why the Government of Canada provided generous humanitarian assistance in both cases.
Canada’s help dramatically reduces workloads and frees up time for school or the pursuit of employment opportunities, significantly reduces child diseases, and improves student attendance and learning. We know why water and sanitation are important, and are committed to improving conditions in the places we work. We remain committed and will continue to do whatever we can to help people lead healthy, productive and dignified lives.
Minister of International Cooperation