More foreign aid for safe water and toilets is essential for the region


14 May 2013 | AU

WaterAid welcomes the Australian Government’s significant increase in funding for water and sanitation, yet is disappointed at the further delays in lifting Australia’s aid to 50 cents in every $100 of national income and the allocation of a large amount of this year’s aid budget to domestic asylum seeker costs.

WaterAid believes a higher level of funding for clean water and sanitation over the coming years is essential to ensure improved health and reduced poverty in the Asia Pacific region. The latest budget has allocated $279 million to sanitation and water in the $5.7 billion aid budget, representing 5% and an increase of $115 million on the previous year.

“Increasing access to sanitation and water is now one of the key development objectives of Australia’s aid policy. Tonight’s increase in funding in this area shows the Government is starting to get serious about meeting this objective,” said WaterAid Australia’s Chief Executive Mr Adam Laidlaw. “We look to the Government to increase spending in this neglected area of human development much further in future years. We also urge the Government to play a leadership role in championing universal access to sanitation and water in the Post 2015 framework for international development.”

2.5 billion people around the world live without access to a toilet and 783 million people rely on unclean water. The absence of these basic services kills millions and costs billions. Over 2000 children a day die from diarrhoea which can be caused by lack of sanitation and clean water.

“WaterAid is calling for $500 million per year of Australia’s foreign aid budget to be allocated to sanitation and water by 2015. Access to safe water and toilets is critical to improving health and education and increasing opportunities for women and girls in the developing world, particularly in our neighbouring countries of Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste and Cambodia. Clean water and sanitation reduces poverty and increases economic activity in the region. Most importantly it puts people on a path to better and more dignified lives,” said Mr Laidlaw.

“As the budget is implemented, we will be looking for the integration of clean water and sanitation into Australia’s international health, nutrition and education programs to maximse value for money and improve effectiveness. In addition to homes, clean water and sanitation are needed in schools and health centres. Students and teachers don’t stay in schools without drinking water and sanitation and health facilities without water and toilets put lives at risk,” said Mr Laidlaw.

“We need to target the most disadvantaged communities where access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene is lowest and the disease burden is highest. Real results will only be delivered if clean water and sanitation reach the countries, communities and individuals that need them most. In our region Papua New Guinea, Cambodia and Laos are countries where millions of people still lack access to sanitation and water and the budget shows Australia has not prioritised these services in these countries,” said Mr Laidlaw.


Kirrily Johns, Communications Manager, WaterAid: +61 03 9001 8246,


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 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 17.5 million people with safe water and, since 2004, 12.9 million people with sanitation. For more information, visit: