EU announces major support to pioneering renewable energy and water plant in Djibouti

Brussels, 24-12-2012 — / — The European Union will support a project to build a desalination plant which will use renewable energy to provide water to 200,000 inhabitants, one-fourth of the country’s population, in some of Djibouti’s poorest areas. The announcement was made today by Development Commissioner, Andris Piebalgs, and Djiboutian Prime Minister, Mr Dileita Mohamed Dileita, during his visit to Brussels.

Announcing the funding, Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs said: Access to water is a human right and it’s unacceptable that insufficient water supply can be a source of conflict, as Djibouti recently experienced. With this new project, we are not only increasing access to water for the people but we also help to bring security and stability for all Djiboutians. This project is yet another example that EU keeps its promises. The EU supports the UN Sustainable Energy for All initiative and in in the future, the plant will be powered by renewable energy. This is a great example of how with smart aid we can create sustainable development.”

Djibouti suffers from an acute water shortage and has recently endured a prolonged drought, which has led to a serious food crisis in the country. The lack of access to water has led to recent fighting and riots in the country.

Current demand for water in the capital Djibouti City (where around 75% of the population lives) is estimated at 80,000 m3 per day but only 36,000m3 per day is currently being supplied.

The new EU-funded project PEPER (Producing Safe Drinking Water with Renewable Energy) will set up a desalination plant in the capital to directly respond to these needs- providing affordable and clean drinking water. Almost half of the 560,000 inhabitants of the city of Djibouti live in Balbala, which has a poverty rate in excess of 70 percent.

The water produced is taken from the local aquifer; the only source of potable water for the city, which has reached its physical limit. Its quality is poor due to sea water intrusion, which has health and social consequences for the most vulnerable parts of the population, in particular children and women. The situation is aggravated by the high population growth in the capital which is expected to see demand for water more than double in the next 20 years.

Project details

The new facility, which will have a capacity of 22,500 m3 per day, easily extendable to 45,000 m3 per day; will be powered by renewable energy and a wind farm is planned as part of the second stage of the PEPER project. Seawater desalination is the only viable way for Djibouti to be able to tackle its water scarcity in the short run. However, such a strategy requires low cost energy to be readily available, which is where the wind farm can contribute.

High energy costs have long held back economic growth and social development in Djibouti. Creating a new source of lower cost, clean energy will help to strengthen the political and social stability of the country, as well as helping to increase security and peace in the region. A new tariff system will allow affordable cost for water desalination and subsidies for social protection and increased access to water and energy for the poorest.

The PEPER energy and water integrated project is one of the components of the EU’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative, which President Barroso announced in April and will also support the Government of Djibouti’s reform programme in the energy sector. The project is in line with commitments made at the Rio +20 summit and marks the first step towards Djibouti’s goal of moving towards 100% renewable energy by 2020


The EU will provide €40.5 million out of the total estimated budget of €46 million for the new water desalination plant. The remaining €5.5 million will be financed from Djibouti. The project will consist of two phases of 22.500 m³ each.

The PEPER project is expected to strengthen links and cooperation between the government, civil society, technical and financial partners and the private sector. New sustainable water and energy management strategies will be put in place, creating a framework for development aid and public/ private investment. This could include financing from blending loans and grants – in line with the European Commission’s Agenda for Change, which was recently adopted by Council.

For more information

Factsheet on PEPER Project:

Website of EuropeAid Development and Cooperation DG:

Website of European Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs:

Contacts :

Catherine Ray (+32 2 296 99 21)

Wojtek Talko (+32 2 297 85 51)


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