End Water Poverty yesterday warned that weak targeting of aid is undermining efforts to tackle poverty and ill-health, leaving the poorest of the poor trapped in poverty. The warning follows the release of a key UN report on sanitation and water, which was launched just two days before the first annual High-Level Meeting on Sanitation and Water.
The UN-Water Global Annual Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking Water (GLAAS), produced by the WHO and UNICEF, shows that only 42% of aid given to water and sanitation actually goes where it is most needed – to low income countries. For example, between 2006 and 2008 Jordan received $500 in aid for every person without access to safe water, while Chad received just $3. Further, only 16% goes to ‘basic services’ – interventions serving the poorest people – up from 11% from five years ago.
The Report also showed that despite diarrhea being the second biggest killer of children under five, funding for water and sanitation – which could prevent 88% of these deaths – has declined as a share of overall aid (6.3% to 4.7%).
Back in November 2009 RESULTS warned that water and sanitation are increasingly neglected areas in international aid, and carried out an action to call on Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada and Chair of the G8 in 2010 to prioritise the issue during the G8 summit. If you want to send a card to Mr Harper to reinforce this message you can download one and see details of where to send it here.
Yakub Hossain, Convener of Freshwater Action Network Bangladesh said “This Report makes it clear that the way governments have been spending their money is not always reaching those who need it most. It provides indisputable evidence that we need to do more, and do it smarter, to bring life-saving sanitation and water to the 2.6 billion people who currently struggle without it.”
We hear from End Water Poverty that the UK’s representatives at the meeting are talking about this issue, emphasising the importance of better targeting of aid to sanitation and water. This is great news, but the UK’s Department for International Development also needs to put a greater priority on the area of sanitation and water as a whole.
To mark the High-Level Meeting on Sanitation and Water, which is the first meeting of its kind and is expected to help form an international consensus about the need for more action to reach the billions of people living without safe sanitation and water, End Water Poverty released the image that you can see at the top of this blog post commenting:
“One of the world’s most recognizable buildings has been given a shocking makeover by international charity WaterAid and global campaign group End Water Poverty. Gone are the immaculate White House lawns, in their place a squalid otherworldly scene where children collect water from a filthy rubbish-strewn water hole and long queues form at the standpoint.
“Except that this isn’t another world. Having to use a contaminated and potentially fatal water source is a daily reality for 884 million people. Then there are the 2.6 billion who have no access to a toilet.”
“This is the White House as you’ve never seen it before,” said Professor Edward Kairu, Chair of the African Civil Society Network on Water and Sanitation (ANEW). “We wanted to bring a snapshot of one aspect of life in many African countries to Washington this week to coincide with the historic high level meeting on water and sanitation. The lack of these two basic necessities has a huge impact on the health, education and economic prosperity of millions across the continent and efforts to stamp out poverty are in serious jeopardy unless there is concerted action on the part of ministers attending the meeting to reverse the decades of neglect.”
You can read a blog from the High-Level Meeting written Steve Cockburn, End Water Poverty’s Coordinator here.