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Water Access

Volume 447: debated on Tuesday 20 June 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps he is taking to support public-public partnerships as a means of improving access to clean water and sanitation in the developing world. (78892)

I attach great importance to ensuring increased access to safe water supply and sanitation in the developing world and have recently committed to doubling DFID’s expenditure on the provision of these basic services in Africa to £95 million by 2007-08. However, while we recognise the importance of ‘public-public’ partnerships, our focus is on a pragmatic approach led by our partner countries, to ensure we are doing what works, and recognising that there can be failures of both private and public models.

In practice, the majority of our work on rural, urban and humanitarian water supply and sanitation services is spent through Governments, not-for-profit or humanitarian agencies (this was around 95 per cent. of our bilateral spend in 2003-04). We are currently actively involved in seven African countries (Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia). In these countries our effort is focused on helping Government and donors deliver more effective water services. We are engaged in sector working groups which aim to promote partnerships (including within the public sector and civil society) that will deliver effective services on the ground and increase access for poor people through better co-ordination at both national and local level.

I am closely monitoring our progress in water and sanitation and DFID publishes regular updates on our website. The latest update is available on DFID’s website at www.dfid.gov.uk

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps he is taking to assist poorer countries in improving their water supplies. (78893)

DFID is committed to helping achieve the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target of halving the proportion of people without access to safe water by 2015. Our programmes are focused on sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia, where achieving the target will be most difficult.

DFID’s Water and Sanitation strategy was set out in the 2004 Water Action plan. The Secretary of State has reinforced DFID’s commitment to doing more in his speeches on World Water day in March 2005, and at DFID’s External Water Forum in February 2006.

DFID is committed to doubling spending on water in Africa to £95 million by 2008. We are currently actively involved in seven African countries (Ethiopia, DRC, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia), up from only two years ago; and through our funding of other agencies’ programmes, we reach many other countries. We are also committed to creating an international system that works more effectively than it does now. We work closely with the World Bank, which is now more focused on water, and with UN Water, to improve co-ordination of the UN agencies operating water and sanitation programmes.

DFID closely monitors progress in water and sanitation and publishes regular updates on the DFID website. The latest update is available on DFID’s website at www.dfid.gov.uk