Monday, 6 July 2009

G8 can't fight poverty without water and sanitation

Today we launched an appeal in the press warning that the G8 leaders will fail to keep their promises to fight poverty, and undermine their initiatives on combating related isues like the food crisis, unless they fulfil their commitments to tackle access to water and sanitation.

This is the same argument I have been making at the G8 Alternative Summit today. When a lack of water and sanitation is responsible for 30% of child deaths, 443 million missing school days each year, and 5% of GDP lost in Africa, its a no-brainer that the G8 just can’t claim to be serious about eliminating poverty if they fail to tackle this issue.

At last year’s G8 they claimed action would be taken this year. Meaningless on the ground, and too late for millions, but at least a mandate to act this week. Quite simply, they have to do this. Just like they have to meet their promises on health, education and aid. And just like they must not use the economic crisis as an excuse to abandon their commitments to the developing world, at the very time those commitments are needed more than ever.

But worryingly, the Italian Government seems to be sticking to its guns about slashing its budget for international cooperation by 56%. Hard to see where leadership is coming from here…

So maybe a bit of an uphill battle ahead but campaigners are doing their best to be heard and hold leaders to account. A couple of days ago campaign actions taken all over the world to support End Water Poverty reached over 1 million in two years. And just last week GCAP Italy presented over 1.5 million petitions to Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

And a bit of light-hearted fun too. Oxfam had a G8 toga party to highlight what these little Emperors and Empress need to do on climate and development. Don't they look regal.

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