The UK has announced a new 5-year programme to improve access to safe, reliable and affordable water supplies and sanitation services, benefitting millions in Asia and Africa.
UK Climate and Environment minister Lord Goldsmith announced new UK funding at the United Nation Water Conference, the first UN conference focused on water since 1977.
The new support builds on the UK’s success helping 120 million people gain access to basic water and hygiene facilities between 2010 and 2020.
Speaking at the first UN High-Level Conference on Water in 40 years, UK Climate and Environment Minister, Lord Goldsmith announced new support to improve the quality of water supply, and sanitation and hygiene services in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
£18.5 million in UK funding will help provide safe, reliable, and affordable water supply sanitation and hygiene services that help prevent disease, protect people’s health and safeguard the environment from pollution. It is a key part of the UK government’s commitment to help end the preventable deaths of mothers, young children and infants.
The programme will help people living in poor communities across Asia and Africa, including in rural areas and in informal settlements in towns and cities. The funding will also support improvements to water, sanitation and hygiene services in schools, including menstrual hygiene, and in health facilities where it will have a major impact on reducing infection and improving quality of care received by patients.
Between 2010 and 2020, UK funding helped over 120 million people gain access to clean water supplies and sanitation. Since 2020 the UK has also reached 1.2 billion people with information promoting hygiene, with a strong emphasis on handwashing, including to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
The provision of safe water supply, sanitation and hygiene services helps protect people, especially young children, from diarrhoea, cholera and other killer diseases. It also reduces the huge effort and time that women and girls spend collecting water, opening up education and employment prospects.
UK Climate and Environment minister Lord Goldsmith said: “Access to water is a human right and it is shocking that by 2030, 1.6 billion people will still not have access to a safe, reliable water supply. We urgently need to scale up global action, to support governments to strengthen and improve water sanitation and hygiene services.
“The UK’s new funding will build on our long-running work to ensure more people have access to clean and safe water, to prevent deaths, open up education and employment, and reduce poverty.”
The UN Conference on Water comes at a critical time. It is predicted that global freshwater demand will outstrip supply by 40% by 2030. Lord Goldsmith will meet with international partners and members of the private sector to discuss progress on ensuring water is a safe, sustainable and accessible resource globally.
This builds on the UK’s COP26 Presidency and work to drive progress on improving access to water, as well as how we value, manage and use water. At COP26, the UK and Malawi launched the Fair Water Footprints initiative, ensuring that goods consumed in the UK and across the world, have sustainable, just and equitable water management.