The European Union has donated 3.7 million Euro to a UNICEF project that would reach 500,000 Zimbabweans with improved sanitation, hygiene and water facilities, reliefweb reported last week. The project focuses on those infected and affected by HIV and AIDS. The EU?s contribution comes at a critical time when many Zimbabwean families and communities are struggling with reduced access to basic services, the aftermath of almost four years of drought, continued economic downturn and the AIDS pandemic, reliefweb said. It is the single largest donation toward UNICEF?s water and sanitation activities in Zimbabwe. UNICEF?s Representative in Zimbabwe Dr Festo Kavishe was cited as saying: ?As recent cholera outbreaks in Zimbabwe remind us, water and sanitation is among the most important determinants of public health. When people achieve reliable access to safe drinking-water and adequate sanitation they have won a major battle against a wide range of diseases.?? The European Union funds are for five years, targeting six districts of Zimbabwe. The project supports hygiene promotion, the construction of latrines in households and schools, nutrition gardens and the drilling of critical new bore holes, it was reported.?The European Commission Head of Delegation Ambassador Xavier Marchal was cited as saying: ?The European Union is committed to assisting the work being done by Zimbabwe?s rural communities as they grapple with water, sanitation and hygienic challenges brought by the AIDS epidemic.? ?These funds will reach half a million Zimbabweans and are just part of our wider poverty-alleviation programmes across the country,? he added. The funds are implemented in line with current EU policy towards Zimbabwe and originate from the Water Facility established by the European Commission. Anecdotal evidence suggests that trends towards urbanisation marginalise rural communities.