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Ecuador: Keeping the drinking water safe in the northern border region

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IOM, the Ecuadorian Ministries of Health and Urban Development and Housing, the Pan American Health Organization and the World Health Organization are commemorating World Environment Day today with an agreement to carry out a Surveillance and Control Plan in all 122 potable water systems built by IOM's development programme for communities along Ecuador's northern border.

IOM's support to the Surveillance and Control Plan will include technical assistance and training to local government officials to increase their capacity to manage, operate and service the systems. In small communities, IOM supports the creation and strengthening of local water administration boards. In larger communities, technical units are created within the municipal governments to oversee management and service with IOM's assistance. IOM partners provide continuous health and hygiene education.

Since 2001 IOM has been carrying out social and productive infrastructure projects in the provinces along the Northern Border with funds from USAID and in coordination with the Ecuadorian government through its Northern Development Unit (UDENOR). The projects aim to improve the health of the population and to promote development of these communities, which receive Colombians who cross the border into these areas.

Some 218 basic infrastructure projects have been built providing these poor communities with much-needed services including drinking water, sanitation systems and roads. These projects have benefited more than 371,342 people.

The Ecuadorian government, civil society and the international community provide continuous assistance to persons arriving from Colombia, some of whom will apply for refugee status in Ecuador.

Currently there are 13,663 Colombian refugees and 44,303 asylum seekers in Ecuador, about 46 per cent of them live in the northern border region. Most of the refugees and asylum seekers live in extremely vulnerable conditions.

For more information contact: IOM Ecuador, Ana Guzman, Tel: (593-2)-225-3948 Email: aguzman@oim.org.ec

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