Maputo — The Australian government has pledged 17.5 million Australian dollars (18.3 million US dollars) to the Transboundary Water Management Programme of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), according to a press release from the Australian High commission in Pretoria.
Bob McMullan, a special envoy from Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, visited Maputo to attend the weekend’s SADC summit, and declared that assistance to the water programme “is a vital element of Australia’s growing engagement in the SADC region”.
“Australia has strong political, diplomatic and commercial links with all SADC countries and our partnerships have grown significantly in recent years”, McMullan said. “Our development cooperation with the various countries in the region for 2011-12 is over 100 million Australian dollars”.
“Our commitment to support SADC member states to effectively manage transboundary water resources will help save lives in areas where many communities lack access to basic safe water and appropriate sanitation”, he declared “The programme is expected to directly benefit up to five million people by 2015, and indirectly benefit millions more in the region’s river basins and local municipalities”.
McMullan also announced that a Memorandum of Understanding governing future cooperation between Australia and SADC is being finalized. The Memorandum is intended to provide a framework for cooperation in areas that SADC has identified as priorities, including good governance, peace and security, climate change adaptation and mitigation, agriculture and food security and human resource development.
McMullan also hoped that SADC countries will make use of the Australian Awards Scholarship programme which provides 1,000 scholarships a year to African students.
During his visit, McMullan attended the official launch on Friday of the Mozambique-Australia Alumni Association, and gave the new body a cheque for 8,800 Australian dollars as seed money. The number of Mozambicans winning scholarships (mostly for masters’ courses) rose from 19 in 2010 to 32 this year.
Australia used to provide just 100 scholarships a year for Africa, but has ramped this up to 1,000. “This has been achieved one year ahead of schedule and is a key component of our efforts to work in partnership with African governments to address human capacity constraints”, said McMullan.
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