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Developing Countries: Sanitation

Volume 460: debated on Wednesday 23 May 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what (a) budget and (b) plans he has for the future support of water and sanitation projects in developing countries. (138543)

The UK has agreed that half of our direct bilateral aid to poor countries should be spent on basic services, including water, and we will double our total support to water and sanitation in Africa to £95 million a year by 2007-08 and more than double it again to £200 million a year by 2010-11.

In 2005-06 we committed £78 million to Sub-Saharan Africa, which is home to some of the world's poorest people and where the millennium development goals (MDG) for water and sanitation are most off-track.

Current bilateral commitments include a planned investment of £100 million in Ethiopia and around £20 million a year in Sudan. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, we have more than doubled our commitments on water and sanitation from £4 million a year in 2005-06 to £10 million a year by 2007-08.

Our major commitments in Asia include £5.5 million to help deliver water and sanitation to £6 million slum dwellers in Indian cities. In Bangladesh, we support UNICEF’s sanitation, environmental health and water programme, which helps 30 million people and 7,500 schools. We also provide nearly £16 million to the charity WaterAid’s sanitation and environmental health programme. This has already reached over 1 million of some of Bangladesh’s poorest people—and intends to reach a further 3 million over five years.

But we cannot tackle this alone. That is why I have called for global action on water and sanitation.

At the international level we are calling for two main things:

one annual report to monitor progress towards achieving the MDG water and sanitation targets. This should set out levels of access to safe water and adequate sanitation, highlighting where progress is lagging behind.

one high-level global annual meeting to review what is being done, highlight progress and agree on action.

Within each country there should be:

One national water and sanitation plan—setting out current levels of access and identifying the investment needed.

One water and sanitation co-ordinating group—this should bring together government, civil society and donors to identify the blockages and agree who will do what.