Thursday, 9 July 2009

Surge in aid to Iraq masks weak G8 action on water and sanitation

Increased aid for water and sanitation driven by politics not need

Following a G8 statement released late last night, End Water Poverty reveals that reported increases in aid for water and sanitation since 2002 have been dominated by reconstruction efforts in Iraq, and other regions of political and economic interest, rather than to reaching poor communities across Africa and South Asia.

The surge in funding to Iraq has masked the fact that the G8 have failed to make sufficient investments in water and sanitation services, failing to tackle a crisis that kills 4,000 children every day.

Oliver Cumming, from WaterAid, member of the End Water Poverty campaign, said:

“It is Iraq, not Africa, that has received the bulk of increased funding for water and sanitation - something that is cold comfort for the poorest people in the world who are still waiting for significant action by the G8. The scandalous result of the G8’s priorities is the continuation of a crisis that kills 4,000 children every day. “

Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, the two regions of most critical need, together receive just 30% of G8 funding for water - significantly less than in 2003 when the G8 launched its Water Action Plan for Africa at the Evian Summit.

According to OECD, in 2005 and 2006 more aid went to Iraq for water and sanitation than for the whole of sub-Saharan Africa whilst Malaysia – where 99% of people have access to clean water - receives 26 times more per head than Congo, Angola or Togo.

Water and sanitation was meant to be a centrepiece of this year’s summit, but yesterday’s communiqué failed to deliver a concrete deal. Tomorrow, G8 leaders are to sign a joint declaration with the African Union outlining a partnership to further implement the Evian Plan. Despite promises, however, few tangible commitments are expected.

Khumbuzile Zuma, South African spokesperson for End Water Poverty said:

“Action to provide water and sanitation in Africa is long overdue, but as the figures behind this report show, we cannot trust that words will be enough. In 2003 we were promised action to deliver these most basic services in Africa, but we are still waiting while the destination of extra money is driven by politics and not need.

So far, all we have seen at this summit are delays and broken promises. Tomorrow, leaders from both Africa and the G8 simply must deliver decisive action. Otherwise it will mean nothing to those who have lost children, or who have been denied an education, because they cannot drink clean water or use a safe toilet.” 

ENDS

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

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