Wednesday, 8 July 2009

G8 on poverty and water: No big deal

Watered down promises and moving targets, poor to count cost of G8 failure

Global campaign group End Water Poverty slammed the G8 failure to stand by poor communities in hard times as they released their official summit communiqué.

Among a host of failures at the Summit, the G8 have broken last year’s promise to finally tackle the global water and sanitation crisis. Since the G8 last met in Hokkaido, over 1.4 million children have died from diarrhoea as a result of a lack safe water and toilets - a scandalous human cost that is set to continue after today’s neglect and inaction.

Khumbuzile Zuma, a South African spokesperson for End Water Poverty said,
"This year's G8 has confirmed many people's worst fears that so  many of the world's richest countries are prepared to run away from their commitments to the poor, such as those on aid and safe drinking water, at exactly the time they are needed most.”

“This year they had finally promised to tackle the global water and sanitation crisis that is responsible for almost 30% of all child deaths, but in reality nothing has been done that will make a difference to the lives of people in Africa. The best they could do was give themselves another six months to think about it.”

“How long must Africa wait for the right to use a safe toilet and drink clean water? Without addressing this we will never make the progress needed on ending hunger, reducing child deaths or getting children into school."

An “enhanced implementation plan” to deliver water and sanitation in Africa was meant to be a centerpiece of this week’s Summit, but instead the G8 merely announced they would aim to “make progress” on a partnership with African governments by the end of the year. Draft documents in the run up to the summit show just how much ambition has been watered down, and the final proposal contains no specific actions or commitments.

Oliver Cumming from WaterAid, a key supporter of End Water Poverty said:

“It is shocking that the deaths of 1.4 million children do not warrant immediate action from the G8. But it is truly scandalous that in the year they committed to address the water and sanitation crisis they have abandoned people in poor countries to continued indignity, poverty and ill-health.”

Paul Cook from Tearfund a key supporter of End Water Poverty added

“How many of these leaders would have been happy to come here if there were no toilet facilities or drinking water?”

End Water Poverty also warned leaders that their neglect of water and sanitation would have serious consequences for any other development initiatives announced at the summit including health, education and agriculture.

/ENDS

Notes to editors

Oliver Cumming and Khumbuzile Zuma are both at the G8 Summit and available for interview. for For all media requests contact Chloe Irvine +44 75 1494 1577 OR +44 777 1654 544 (based in L’Aquila) OR Steve Cockburn +44 79 2008 0855 

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