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15/11/2008 - 14:21

IDB, FEMSA and Instituto Tecnológico de Monterrey announce creation of the Latin American and Caribbean Water Center

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Fundación FEMSA and the Tecnológico de Monterrey today signed an agreement to create the Latin American and Caribbean Water Center, with an initial investment of $11 million.

Fundación FEMSA, founded by the beverage company FEMSA, is beginning its operations with this project. The foundation plans to develop projects in cooperation with institutions committed to community welfare around the world.

The Water Center will be operated by the Tecnológico de Monterrey and will jump-start programs and projects that support initiatives related to the use, management and conservation of water resources in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The IDB considers the proper management and distribution of water resources to be a key prerequisite to health and economic growth in the region's countries.

The memorandum of understanding (MOU) that created the center was signed by IDB president Luis Alberto Moreno, FEMSA chairman and CEO José Antonio Fernández Carbajal, and Tecnológico de Monterrey rector Rafael Rangel Sostmann.

“Some 85 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean still do not have access to potable water, and more than 115 million do not have access to sanitation services,” President Moreno said. “This Center is a call to think big and to seek ambitious, definitive solutions to these problems.”

The Center will offer training, research and information management for the conservation and sustainable use of water, promote strategic alliances, and offer world-class technical expertise and innovative approaches to the sector’s problems, all based on a broad understanding of the major issues affecting the countries in the region, Moreno explained.

The Center’s programs will target professionals in national and regional government agencies, and in companies involved in managing and using regional water resources.

“Every country in Latin America and the Caribbean urgently needs trained professionals, and launching the Center is a very important step in that direction, Moreno added. “The Center will be an invaluable platform for developing the abilities and knowledge that will move us toward better management and use of the region’s water resources.”

The water and sanitation sector is a priority for the IDB. In May 2007, the Bank approved the Water and Sanitation Initiative, whose main objective is to help Latin American and Caribbean countries achieve sustainable, reliable and quality access to water and sanitation services.

As part of this initiative, the IDB set a goal of completing water and sanitation projects in 100 cities and 3,000 rural communities during the next four years. The Bank is already working in 44 cities and more than 700 rural communities, and it intends to lend at least a billion dollars a year for this sector.

In addition, the IDB recently created AquaFund, a fast-disbursing fund designed to finance project preparation in support of the Water and Sanitation Initiative. The Water Center is the first IDB project financed with AquaFund resources.

Finally, the IDB has been invited by Spain to collaborate in identifying, coordinating and supervising projects to be financed by the Water and Sanitation Cooperation Fund announced by the Spanish government during the 18th Latin American Summit held in El Salvador in late October. This fund will provide up to $1.5 million in grants for the region over the next four years.

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