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G8 aid commitments disappoint water charities

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AFRICAN AID charity WaterAid has expressed disappointment at the lack of commitment for water and sanitation in the aid package agreed by the G8 leaders last week.

The leaders of the eight most industrialised countries pledged to double aid to Africa by 2010, singling out targets to improve health and education and tackle HIV/AIDS.

But there was no mention of improving water supply or other infrastructure in Africa.

'We would like to have seen more specifics on water spending and a strategy for how the money will be spent, ' said WaterAid public policy director Stephen Turner.

'We need commitments to turn into practical action - which takes at least eight years.

It'll be a long time before we see more taps and toilets being built, ' he added.

The G8 leaders agreed to increase overall aid to developing countries by £28.6bn per year by 2010, of which at least £14.3bn will go to Africa, as outlined in prime minister Tony Blair's Commission for Africa plan (NCE 30 June).

They also reaffi rmed the decision to write off debts on International Monetary Fund, World Bank and African Development Bank loans for 38 of the world's poorest countries (NCE 16 June).

African aid expert Reatile Mochebelele also welcomed the move, but warned that structures must be put in place to ensure the money is spent wisely.

'We must now deal with increasing capacity within regional communities and infrastructure committees to absorb this money, ' said Mochebelele, infrastructure advisor to the New Partnership for Africa's Development and member of the Infrastructure Consortium for Africa.

'Right now, regional communities cannot cope with the money that will be coming in.

We need partners to help this work, ' said Mochebelele.

INFOPLUS To view the G8 communiqué visit www. nceplus. co. uk

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