The UK Government announced at the landmark Sanitation and Water for All meeting in Washington DC that they are doubling the UK’s commitment on clean water and sanitation, made last year. The meeting indicated that 167 children die every hour from diarrhoea, the vast majority of which is due to a lack of access to safe water and sanitation: that is a scandalous tragedy in the 21st century.
Over the lifetime of this Parliament, British taxpayers will support more than 60 million people, ensuring access to basic services such as pit latrines and communal water pumps as well as improving hygiene. Our pledges last year were threefold:
- Give 15 million people access to clean drinking water
- Improve access to sanitation for 25 million people
- Improve hygiene for 15 million to help stop people getting sick
Commenting on the success of the meeting, the International Development Secretary, Andrew Mitchell, said:
For too long, water and sanitation has not received the priority it deserves from the international community. But we know that without clean water supplies and proper sanitation, we will never help developing countries stand independently and thrive.
And so the UK continues to spend its scarce taxpayers’ money on providing services which should have been taken care of long ago in other people’s countries. We’ll touch the lives of tens of millions when billions are in need. We’ll only provide facilities which would be basic at a British campsite. There is a moral imperative to do more.
My own experience is that poor countries remain in poverty because they lack one or more of the institutions which have made us prosperous: peace, property, contract, democracy and freedom under the rule of law. Adopting those institutions is a matter of will amongst the people of the affected nations. I hope they do so.
Further reading: Nigel Ashford’s Principles for a Free Society is available in English, Russian, Lithuanian, Serbian, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish. I understand there are those who wish to produce Arabic and Urdu translations.