Mekong Region Governments commit to water programmeThe governments of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam have signed a declaration supporting the scaling up of the UN-Habitat’s Mekong Region Water and Sanitation (MEK-WATSAN) Initiative.

The Initiative was formulated in 2005 as a collaborative effort between UN-Habitat, the governments of the Greater Mekong Sub-region and the Asian Development Bank to support the participating countries to achieve the water and sanitation related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). With financial support from the Government of the Netherlands, the fast track initiatives and roll out phase 1 of the programme has covered over 30 towns and benefitted over 400,000 people with basic sanitation and safe drinking water.  The scaling up of the Initiative will have a special focus on sanitation.

The “Vientiane Declaration” was signed by representatives of the three governments at the end of the Regional Stakeholders’ Consultations on the completion of the roll-out phase 1 of MEK-WATSAN held in Vientiane, Lao PDR from 24-25 June 2013. It called upon donors to provide an increased level of funding towards the Initiative, including capacity building to ensure sustainability of the programme and subsequent achievement of the MDGs, Post MDG targets and the Governments’ goals for Water and Sanitation.

The Declaration encouraged UN-Habitat to continue close partnership with development partners/agencies and regional institutions in scaling up of MEK-WATSAN initiative and affirmed the commitment of the Governments to coordinate to ensure adequate monitoring of the Initiative in their respective countries including carrying out sustainability checks.

The two-day regional consultations was officially opened by the Lao Vice Minister for Public Works and Transport, Mr. Bounchanh Sinthavong and attended by high level representatives from the three countries, UN Agencies, the media, and representatives of Non-Governmental Organizations.  During the consultations, participants reviewed the impacts and achievements of the Initiative both at the country and regional level. They also shared experiences, best practices and lessons learned in the implementation of the Initiative and explored possible funding opportunities for the next phase of MEK-WATSAN in the region.