Thursday, 22 April 2010

New Report: Put your money where the poor are

Today’s main event was the launch of a new UN Report that showed that aid to water and sanitation was not reaching the poorest of the poor. Just 42% of aid is going to ‘low-income countries’ (the poorest 65), with some perverse outcomes: Jordan receives $500 per year for every person who does not have access to water, while Chad receives only $3.

Read our press release here.

Another key statistic was that the share of total aid going to water and sanitation has fallen from around 8% of all aid in 1997 to just 5% in 2008.

Clearly global commitments to provide sanitation and water for all – and those to improve child health and girls’ education - will not be met unless these figures are dramatically changed.

Today’s report gave some clear evidence of what needs to be done. Ignorance is no longer an excuse. What was presented as a problem today can also be a solution – change the way we do things and we can scale up efforts and prevent the deaths of 2.2 million children every year.

We are lucky enough to have Yakub (right) with us, a colleague from Freshwater Action Network Bangladesh, to speak at today's press conference. He powerfully explained what failure to respond to this report means in his country. 66,000 children die in Bangladesh from diahrroea every year, and although they have a national plan to achieve universal access to sanitation by 2013, they lack the funds to implement it.

He was also supported others. The World Health Organisation said they wanted donors to increase their support, UNICEF said more needed to be done to build local capacity to deliver, and a representative from the Netherlands called on Hilary Clinton to fund a new piece of legislation currently in the US Congress.

Tomorrow is another day. Ministers of water and sanitation, health and environment from 20 countries in Africa and Asia will meet to agree measures to improve their own performance, and to send a message to the High-Level Meeting the following day about what they feel needs to be done by others. We’ll be present again, with our colleague from Kenya presenting our demands, and will report back soon.

We’re hoping they’ve all had some good bedtime reading.

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