Last weekend the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop, announced a revised aid program that will focus on Australia’s region. WaterAid was disappointed to learn that included in this announcement were cuts to essential water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programs, in this financial year, at a time when the scale of the global water, sanitation and health crisis remains severe, and when other governments have announced increases in their allocation. As you know WASH represents one of the most pressing challenges confronting the world today; almost 2,000 children die every day from preventable diseases, like diarrhoea, caused by unclean water and inadequate sanitation and a staggering 2.5 billion people do not have access to adequate sanitation. 50% of hospital beds in the developing world are filled with people suffering from WASH-related illnesses. Investment in such basic services has far-reaching returns in health and education for women, girls and whole communities. WASH is fundamental to human development and economic growth, and thus very much in Australia’s national interest. Over the coming days and weeks, WaterAid will be working closely with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Government, to gain a deeper understanding of this announcement. Given the scale and severity of the global water, sanitation and hygiene crisis it is imperative that any further plans to cut spending in relation to WASH, including to country programs in our region, are revised. We welcome the Government’s call to work with NGOs to set benchmarks that will ensure effective expenditure of aid, and look forward to working with the Government to ensure WASH is a featured component of Australia’s aid program in the coming financial year. WaterAid takes great pride in the effectiveness of its program delivery, placing a strong emphasis on sustainability, cost effectiveness and inclusion. We thank you, our supporters, for your continued contribution to the vital work that we do, and we will endeavour to keep you updated as more information comes to hand. About WaterAid WaterAid’s vision is of a world where everyone has access to safe water and sanitation. The international organisation works in 27 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 19.2 million people with safe water and, since 2004, 15.1 million people with sanitation.