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What is needed to ensure universal access to water and sanitation services in Latin America?

At the IDB, we believe there are four main challenges: attracting new investment; ensuring the quality, quantity and reliability of water resources; strengthening the institutions responsible for planning, regulation and monitoring; and improving the efficiency of operators of these services.

To help countries in the region achieve universal access to sustainable, reliable, reasonable quality  services, in 2007 the Bank launched the Water and Sanitation Initiative.

The initial goal of the Initiative was to finance projects in 100 cities and 3,000 rural communities by 2011. It also sets out to promote the integrated management of water basins, as well as stronger management capacity and greater transparency among operators of water and sanitation services.
To achieve these goals, the Bank offers loans with and without sovereign guarantee, technical cooperation, investment grants and sectoral strategic plans. The IDB also finances exchanges among operators through the Water Operators Partnerships program.

In mid-2009, the IDB formalized an agreement with the Government of Spain to cofinance projects in 12 countries. Spain will contribute US$407 million in grants and the IDB will provide US$213 in loans and grants to finance projects that will extend services to over four million people in low-income rural and periurban communities.

The IDB is the main multilateral source of investment funds for water and sanitation in Latin America and the Caribbean. Since the Initiative was launched in 2007, the Bank has provided over US$3.5 billion in financing for the sector and over US$16.5 million for technical assistance. Work has been carried out in 102 cities (surpassing the goal of 100), in 839 rural communities, and in 21 micro-basins (surpassing the goal of 20). Technical assistance has also been increased and provided to 62 operators in the region. In 2009, the IDB expects to approve over US$1.6 billion for the sector.

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