Press Notice 18, Session 2006-07

Water and Sanitation Fifth evidence session

Tuesday 20 February 2007

Committee Room 6,  10.45am

o   Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP, Secretary of State for International Development

o  Elwyn Grainger-Jones, Head of Sustainable Development Group, Policy and Research Division

o  Greg Briffa, Team Leader, Water, Sanitation, Energy and Transport, Sustainable Development Group, Policy and Research Division

o  Ian Curtis, Senior Adviser on Growth, Pan-Africa Strategy Department


Evidence of a global water crisis is widespread. Currently, more than 2 billion people have no access to sanitation and one billion are without access to clean water. The UN believes that over the next two decades the average supply of water per person worldwide will drop by a third. The increasing scarcity of water will hit poor people the hardest, with farmers, slum dwellers and women and children amongst the most vulnerable groups. Access to clean water and sanitation are basic human requirements, and are crucial to many aspects of poverty reduction, including improved health and sustainable economic and social development.

The International Development Committee is conducting an inquiry into Water and Sanitation. The main purpose of the inquiry is to examine how donors - notably the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) - can support progress towards Millennium Development Goal 7, which aims to reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation by 2015, and to support progress towards other MDGs through achieving outcomes in water and sanitation.

In 2005, DFID announced a doubling of its aid to Africa for water. The 2006 DFID White Paper doubled this figure again to £200 million by 2011. The White Paper pledges support for the delivery of water and sanitation services and the sustainable and equitable management of water resources. The inquiry is examining how DFID is fulfilling these commitments, as well as assessing multilateral efforts to secure progress on water and sanitation. The Committee is also looking at progress made by other stakeholders on water and sanitation provision.

This will be the final session of the inquiry and will bring the focus directly on to the leadership provided by DFID. The session will assess DFID’s strategic vision for water and sanitation and will address over-arching issues such as policy coherence and coordination. The session will consider how the Secretary of State and his Department are responding to the opportunities provided by the increasing budget for water and sanitation and will examine how DFID can make a real difference in global efforts to meet the water and sanitation MDG targets.


Further Information:

The membership of the Committee is as follows: Malcolm Bruce MP (Chairman, Lib Dem), John Barrett MP (Lib Dem), John Battle MP (Lab), John Bercow MP (Con), Hugh Bayley MP (Lab), Richard Burden MP (Lab), Mr Quentin Davies MP (Con), James Duddridge MP (Con), Ann McKechin MP (Lab), Joan Ruddock MP (Lab), Mr Marsha Singh MP (Lab).

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