Tuesday was a good day in Westminster. As the sun shone down on the Palace of Westminster, 43 MPs, a Bishop and Andrew Mitchell MP, the Secretary of State for International Development, came out to join the 350,000 people worldwide taking part in World Walks for Water.
Pre-walk event in Parliament
Fiona Bruce MP hosted a talk the main event for Tearfund and WaterAid supporters, in which she emphasised that campaigning in the UK is vital in ensuring more MPs understand the water and sanitation crisis and that it needs to be tackled now. It was a great rallying call!
Supporters young and old walked alongside politicians as they carried a jerry can around the 100m course in Victoria Tower Gardens. As they walked, the supporters told the MPs more about the water crisis and urged them into action. It was a great way to ensure targeted lobbying! The route was designed to act as a reminder of the fact that millions of people in Africa and Asia, mainly women and children, have to walk 6km to access water. Many MPs commented on the physical effort of carrying water for this short distance and committed to do more to raise the issue in Parliament. Together campaigners made up the distance of 6km.
As well as Andrew Mitchell MP, a huge number of MPs connected to development joined in. Members of the International Development Select Committee Anas Sarwar MP, Hugh Bayley MP and Richard Burden MP attended. Harriet Harman MP, the Shadow SoS came with her colleague from the shadow team Mark Lazarowicz MP and fellow shadow Cabinet members Douglas Alexander MP and Sadiq Khan MP also walked and listened to campaigners.
World Water Day can, however, be more than just a good day at Westminster. We now need to see the positive words and actions taken by our leaders translate into a real increase in ambition to raise more people out of water and sanitation poverty.
For the 22 March 2011 to be remembered as more than just a good day in Westminster Andrew Mitchell and the government must now raise their ambition and lift 100m people out of water and sanitation poverty by 2015.
Please join us in making this happen by signing WaterAid's petition to the Government...Please sign the petition here and see photos of the day on WaterAid's facebook page.