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Bill Cash MP meets Government minister to seek answers on water and sanitation goals in the developing world

Press release 15/06/09       

Today, Bill Cash MP met with the Government minister responsible for water and sanitation, Mike Foster MP, and with several representatives from Tearfund, WaterAid and UNICEF.
 
Bill Cash is Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Water and Sanitation in the Third World and the Committee has campaigned for many years on water and sanitation issues. Diarrhoeal diseases caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation, such as cholera, typhoid and dysentery, are common across the developing world – killing 5,000 children every single day. A child dies every 15 seconds from diarrhoea, caused largely by poor sanitation and water supply. 
 
In an extremely constructive meeting and with frank exchanges, it appears that so far there are only seven countries, including Germany and some Nordic countries who have matched the United Kingdom in solving these problems. Bill Cash pointed out that sanitation and water conditions have become a critical global problem particularly for the third world and developing countries with pressure on water resources, leading to potential civil war or worse, or pestilence and disease from lack of sanitation. This occurs on a scale of significant numbers which is greater than those that cause death from AIDS and malaria put together.
 
Therefore, as the meeting reinforced Mr. Cash’s analysis and as WaterAid confirmed, water must be put at the top of the agenda and for a simple reason that although health and education are enormously important, death from bad water and sanitation eliminates those who otherwise would receive health and education. Ivan Lewis from the Foreign Office is currently in Washington and on his return, his submissions will be made available to the Water and Sanitation committee.
 
Concern was expressed in the meeting that insufficient attention was being taken in relation to the G8, despite the fact that Tony Blair, on his last day in office, wrote to Mr. Cash assuring him that Mr. Blair’s own priority was to put water and sanitation at the top of the agenda.
 
The Water and Sanitation Committee therefore calls on Gordon Brown to put the issue of water and sanitation at the top of that agenda and not only the water engineering questions – to which he appears to have relegated these matters in his expressed views on the subject. The meeting concluded that significant progress had been made in the course of discussions today and that every effort had been made to attempt to put sanitation and water to the top of the agenda for international development and 10 Downing Street.
 
The group thanked the Minister for his contribution and Mike Foster agreed to have another meeting in the reasonably near future.
 
The Committee already has the parliamentary support of more than 250 MPs in the campaign for better water and sanitation.

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