Kuwait funding DPRK water and sanitation projects

UPDATE: According to the Pyongyang Times:

The Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development has decided to loan on the updating of sewage treatment facilities in Pyongyang.

The ceremony for signing a loan-giving agreement took place on November 19 at the People’s Palace of Culture, which was attended by a delegation from the Ministry of City Management led by Deputy Minister Ri Kang Hui and a delegation from the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development headed by Deputy General Director Hesham Ebraheem Alwaqayan.

The fund will provide long-term low-interest loan for the technological renovation of sewage facilities in Pyongyang.

The loan will be spent on upgrading dozens of pumping stations.

The agreement was inked by Ri Kang Hui and Hesham Ebraheem Alwaqayan.

The Kuwait fund had loaned on the Pyongyang drinking water service reconstruction in 2003.

The DPRK ministry spent the loan on upgrading water purification plants, increasing water production capacity, updating and expanding drinking water service networks and establishing information system on drinking water service and completed the project in February last year.

ORIGINAL POST (2008-11-26): Although the DPRK is doing its best to chase away South Korean investment, the Kuwaiti government is providing Pyongyang with a USD$21.7 million loan to construct water and sanitation facilities.

The Kuwait Fund for Economic Development (KFAED) stated here on Sunday that it will sign a loan agreement with North Korea in a few days which is valued at KD 6.2 million (USD 21.7 million) to help in financiaing a sanitation system project.

In a statement to the media FKAED added the suggested project contributes in improving a the environment and public health by raising the performance of city sewage systems.

With this second loan, KFAED financing to North Korea is to come to KD 12.4 million (USD 43.4 million), going into development projects in water and sanitation sectors.  This is in addition to technical assistance of KD 153.5 thousand (USD 537,000).

I am unsure what exactly Kuwait’s play is here.  Altruism is well and good, but an unconvincing motive for such a hefty sum of money.  The only other narrative that I can imagine is awfully cynical:  If these sanitation projects are constructed by Kuwaiti contractors and engineers using Kuwaiti parts and supplies, then international development officials should be aware that the DPRK offers many opportunities to channel development funds into the coffers of supporters back home—you just have to make sure Pyongyang gets its cut.

Does anyone else have a theory?

Read the full story here:
Kuwait News Agency
11/16/2008

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  • Gag Halfrunt

    Kuwait wouldn hardly be the only country to use its aid programmes in that way – a lot of overseas development assistance takes the form of goods and services from the donor country instead of money. The USAID website used to boast that American businesses were the main beneficiaries of their projects, but eventually that statement was removed when it became too embarrassing.

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  • Mike

    Is it a little odd that monies are coming from the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development? Is there no Kuwait Fund for International Development? Other than sheer altruism and generosity, the DPRK must have guaranteed some sort of mining or mineral rights to Kuwait.

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