Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Write to Your MP: UK to Double Support for Water and Sanitation

Last week we posted on our Facebook wall the fantastic news that the UK Government has decided to double its support to water and sanitation projects in the world's poorest countries. The UK Department for International Development (DFID) will work to secure access to clean drinking water and proper sanitation for more than 60million people over the lifetime of this parliament.

As we have posted numerous times, access to clean water and good sanitation has a knock-on benefit to many other areas of life. It means children will no longer have to walk many miles to collect water, thus increasing the time they can spend at school. It means health problems, many avoidable diseases, can be reduced. This is turn can improve the life expectancy of mothers giving birth and young children especially. Improved health, through drinking clean water, can mean less days are lost to sickness and so people have the freedom to work and generate income. In fact, for every £1 spent on water and sanitation in the developing world, it is estimated by the United Nations that a staggering £8 is returned in reduced health costs, saved time and better productivity.

Alan Duncan, Minister of State at DFID, recently stated in a debate to mark World Water Day:
"Ensuring access to water and sanitation for the poorest is, to pick a metaphor, the bread and butter of development. When we get it right, so much else follows: children become more likely to reach their fifth birthday, and they are healthier and in a better position to benefit from education; women, who carry most of the world’s water, are empowered; and economic growth and prosperity are enhanced and facilitated. While we fail to deliver those most basic necessities, not only are there an estimated 2.4 million preventable deaths each year, but generations of people become trapped in poverty."
Any increase in the support the UK gives to water projects is fantastic news and deserves to be celebrated. We are asking those readers of the GfGD Blog who are UK Citizens to take this opportunity to write a brief letter to their constituency MP to express your support for this decision. It is important to let our MPs know when there is something we are happy with, as well as something we are not happy with. There is much debate about the UK aid budget at the moment, and it will be great for many MPs to hear that we think giving more support to water projects is the right thing! 

Some of you may be regular letter-writers to your MP, others may have never done it before. Here's our simple step-by-step guide:

(1) Work out who your MP is by putting your postcode into this website
(2) Write a letter addressed to your MP, stating why you are writing, why this is important to you and what you'd like your MP to do. 
(3) The letter can be very brief - the more concise the better. You can use some of the information in this blog post or other posts, or do further research if you'd like. Make sure you are polite.
(4) Post the letter to your MP (!)

At a cost of 50-60p for a stamp and about 10 minutes of your time - there's no real reason not to get involved in this GfGD activity! Once you've sent your letter - why not comment on this blog, stating who you are, what you do (e.g. PhD Student at King's College London) and which MP you wrote to. It will be great to see how many different MPs we've managed to contact to tell them that clean water and good sanitation save the lives of many of the world's poorest communities!