The 60 million promise - one year on

A year has passed since the magical moment when the UK Government promised to reach 60 million people with water and sanitation by 2015.

24 Apr 2013

Rebecca Owen of WaterAid recalls the moment last year when the 60 million pledge was made:

Saturday 20 April marked a year since the moment the UK Government pledged to double the number of people they would reach with water and sanitation by 2015.

The announcement was made at a meeting in Washington DC by then International Development Secretary, Andrew Mitchell. Those of us watching on a live internet stream in London remember it as a tense Friday evening as government ministers from 27 countries took their turn to speak.

WaterAid supporter Linda Shurlock recalls having friends round but being unable to tear herself away from the screen while waiting for Mr Mitchell to speak, though the many speeches about open defecation were not exactly conducive to entertaining dinner guests!

WaterAid supporters were instrumental in persuading the International Development Secretary to attend the meeting but the outcome of his presence - the doubling of the UK's commitment was greater than any of us could have hoped for. Many of you wrote to me expressing your delight, as well as your eagerness to see this incredible promise turn into action:

Gwendolyn: “A truly wonderful result and let's now hope for action as soon as possible. It's certainly time we all realised that provision of clean safe water and sanitation is absolutely vital to lifting people out of poverty.”

Maretta: “Wonderful news - I am glad I was able to be a small part of this. We must keep our eyes on things and make a noise if we don't see a change.”

Over the last year, we have indeed kept our eye on things. For World Water Day (22 March) this year, thousands of you sent postcards to remind the Government to keep their promise. This gave us the opportunity to meet with Minister for International Development Lynne Featherstone MP, who confirmed that the Government are on track to meet the commitment.

In June 2013, we expect to see further details of how many people have been reached so far in the Department for International Development’s annual report. We won’t rest until a promise made is a promise delivered so please look out for more information later in the year.

What you can do:

  • Please email your MP to ask them to remind the Government that a year has passed since their promise 
  • Watch this short video explaining more about the meeting and how WaterAid supporters played a role:
Water Works Campaign