A region without access to safe water and sanitation needs more funding, not more cuts

News

15 Dec 2014 | AU

WaterAid is deeply concerned about the effects of the Government’s decision to make further significant cuts to the aid program.

"It is critically important that these cuts have the least direct impact as possible on the poorest and most marginalised people in the world," said WaterAid Australia Chief Executive Paul Nichols. 

“The first casualties of decisions like this are people living in poverty. Of particular concern to WaterAid, and our partners in the water and sanitation sector, are the potential implications for the millions of people living without safe, clean water, currently 748 million across the world, and those without adequate sanitation, currently a staggering 2.5 billion,” said Mr Nichols.

“The global water and sanitation crisis is felt most acutely in Australia’s region, where countries in the Pacific suffer from some of the worst water and sanitation coverage rates across the world. For example in Papua New Guinea only 40% of people have access to safe water and only 19% have access to adequate sanitation,” said Mr Nichols.

“Any potential reduction in spending on water, sanitation and hygiene programs not only has a human cost, but will also prove counter-productive to Australia’s future economic strength. Globally for every US$1 invested in water and sanitation, US$4 is returned in increased productivity. Total global economic losses associated with inadequate water supply and sanitation amount to US$260 billion annually,” said Mr Nichols. 

“Many WaterAid supporters will be dismayed at this latest cut to the aid program, many of whom view aid as both a moral imperative and an economic necessity,” said Mr Nichols.

“WaterAid supporters see investments that lift the poor out of poverty and empower them to participate more meaningfully in their local economy as strategic investments in Australia’s future,” said Mr Nichols.

“Not only does Australian aid transform lives, but it is a smart investment in Australia’s future prosperity. Growth in our region has multiple benefits for Australia – it furthers trade, opens up new markets for Australian business and enhances national security. Advancing the interests of our neighbours advances our interests too,” said Mr Nichols.

“The Australian public has demonstrated their understanding of the multiple benefits of aid through its generous support for people in need over many years,” said Mr Nichols.

“WaterAid urges the Federal Government to reverse its decision on aid cuts, and ensure that it increases its investments in water and sanitation in the years ahead. We cannot afford not to,” said Mr Nichols.

Contact

Kirrily Johns, Communications Manager: 03 9001 8246 or Kirrily.Johns@wateraid.org.au

About WaterAid

WaterAid’s vision is of a world where everyone has access to safe water and sanitation. The international organisation works in 26 countries across Africa, Asia, Central America and the Pacific region to transform lives by improving access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation in some of the world’s poorest communities. Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 21 million people with safe water and, since 2004, 18 million people with sanitation. For more information, visit: www.wateraid.org/au