At the start of the letter, the rhetorical point was raised whether I could imagine our homes without a good toilet. I have used a spade on the steppes of Kazakstan, caught parasites in Uganda, food poisoning in Mauritania, and have been caught short in a dockyard in Angola. All because of the lack of available of clean water and poor hygiene standards. Yes, I fully understand the value of clean water, soap and sanitation.
Access to clean and safe water, sanitation and hygiene are among the most basic of human rights. It is dreadfully disappointing that in 2014 one in three people around the world still do not have access to a proper toilet, while almost 800 million can’t access clean water. This crisis has claimed the lives of more than ten million children below the age of five since 2000. I had access to good doctors and medicine. Many of those who live with such a situation have neither.
I care passionately about international development issues, and Liberal Democrats have been campaigning for decades to ensure that the UK does what it should to help the world’s poorest. That’s why we have ensured that the Coalition Government strongly endorsed the recommendations of the high-level panel on the post-2015 development framework, which proposed ambitious targets for water and sanitation services, as well as for water efficiency and waste water treatment. We want to see water and sanitation feature prominently in the UK’s own work going forward, and the post-2015 development framework, and I am confident that it will.
Separately, Lib Dem MEP Catherine Bearder has been working hard on sanitation issues in the European Parliament. She officially launched the European Toilet Declaration, calling on all EU countries to back a dedicated Sustainable Development Goal aiming to enable universal access to basic drinking water, sanitation and hygiene by 2030.
In Government, Lib Dems have ensured that the UK spent 0.7% of our national income on the world’s poor for the first time, becoming the first G8 nation to meet this 40 year old promise. Now my Lib Dem Colleague Michael Moore is using his Private Members’ Bill to ensure this goal moves from a target to a legal requirement.
By boosting our spending on the world’s poorest, we are able to provide access to clean drinking water, improve access to effective sanitation and provide basic hygiene education for 60 million people by 2015. This help comes on top of £5.8 million provided by the Coalition Government to WaterAid for work around the world providing people with clean water, safe toilets and hygiene education.
The Millennium Development Goal (MDG) on water was met in 2012, by halving the number of people who don’t have access to safe drinking water. More than two billion more people now have better access to water than they did twenty years ago. However, 750 million people still don’t have access to clean water, and though the MDG on water has been met, the MDG on sanitation is still a long way from following suit. Some regions, including Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa are unlikely to meet either of these targets, so there’s still a lot of work to do.
Liberal Democrats in Government have honoured our 2010 manifesto commitment to prioritise health and education spending programmes that promote gender equality, reduce mortality, restrict the spread of major disease and supply basic needs like clean water. We are determined to keep up this record and do even more in the next Parliament, which is why continuing to deliver the 0.7% GNI target for development spending and ensuring that the post-2015 development goals leave no one behind were important commitments in our recent pre-manifesto.
Thanks once again for your enquiry. For me it brought back some memories I would rather forget. It is good that I should not though. Owing to my own experiences, you can rest assured that I take the matter with the upmost seriousness.
If you have any other points or issues you wish to raise, please get in contact. I will be glad to hear from you.
Scottish Liberal Democrats
Edinburgh North and Leith