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Brussels, 13 September 2009

Karel De Gucht visits humanitarian projects in Zimbabwe

Karel De Gucht, the European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, is making his first visit to EU-funded operations today, in Zimbabwe. On his agenda are two humanitarian projects implemented by partners of the Commission's Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO).

The projects are in the highly populated Chitungwiza district, close to Harare. Chitungwiza was badly hit by the recent cholera epidemic, with around 3,700 cases and 170 deaths. Both projects focus on preventing the spread of water-borne diseases. The rehabilitation of the Prince Edward water treatment plant, implemented by the French Red Cross, aims to boost access to safe water supplies for the local people. Water and sanitation improvements undertaken by German Agro Action (GAA) include new boreholes and water tanks, the distribution of hygiene kits and health promotion activities.

Karel De Gucht said: "I am glad to have this opportunity to see examples of relief from Europe that makes a very real difference to people's lives. We have been providing humanitarian support consistently over many years in Zimbabwe, underlining our solidarity with the world's most vulnerable populations. By limiting the next cholera outbreak here - or ideally preventing one altogether - we are helping to consolidate the conditions for longer term recovery and development."

The European Commission is the main donor to the vulnerable populations of Zimbabwe. Since 2002, it has provided €572 million to ease suffering among the population, through humanitarian and other external assistance funding.

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