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Water and sanitation

I certainly agree that access to clean and safe water, sanitation and hygiene are among the most basic of human needs. Providing access to clean drinking water and effective sanitation is vital for improving people’s health and will give them the opportunity to work, which in turn will drive economic growth, helping countries become self-sufficient.

I am pleased that the latest figures show that the Department for International Development (DFID) has provided access for 51.1 million people, of which 19.9 million were female, to water, sanitation and/or hygiene since 2011. DFID is on track to raise this figure to 60 million people by the end of 2015. As part of this, it has built wells, standpipes, pumps, toilets and sewerage systems and has encouraged the private sector in developing countries to do more to improve facilities and infrastructure. By way of example, DFID funding will provide six million people with access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene education in the Democratic Republic of Congo over the next four years. The £25 million funding and UNICEF programme is helping to improve water quality and sanitation in rural areas.

I also welcome the recent adoption of the new Global Goals for Sustainable Development at the UN. The UK successfully pushed for Goal 6 on ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for everyone. Goal 6 also includes indicative targets on access to safe and affordable drinking water, and on access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene, ending open defecation and paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations.