Providing clean water to the world’s poorest has proven to be one of the most cost-effective ways to improve health and productivity in the developing world in recent decades.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that for every £ invested in water and sanitation, there is an economic return of £ 4 in keeping people healthy and productive.
The UK has been a leader in this area. And, because of the transformational impact that installing a water pump can have on a rural village, it has been one of Britain’s most effective levers of soft power in Africa and parts of the world. of Asia, conquering millions of hearts and minds in certain countries. the most remote regions of the world. Since 2015, the UK has helped more than 62.6 million people access safe drinking water and sanitation.
It will now go in the opposite direction. According to WaterAid UK, the region’s leading UK charity, this year the cuts mean “10 million people are losing out in accessing clean water, sanitation and hygiene facilities this year – at in the midst of a pandemic ”.
Pauline Latham, a Conservative MP for Mid Derbyshire who has a keen interest in development issues, called the cuts “shocking” and warned ministers not to “balance the books on the backs of the poor”.
“We are going through a pandemic and if you can’t wash your hands, or if you don’t have a decent toilet and you don’t have a water supply, it’s going to spread like wildfire, like in India, ”she mentioned.
“You just think, what is this government doing? They certainly shouldn’t be trying to cut the budget to such an extent … it’s going to absolutely devastate entire countries.