HL Deb 05 March 2004 vol 658 cc61-2WS
The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Amos)

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for International Development has made the following Statement.

I have placed in the Libraries of both Houses a copy of DfID's new Water Action Plan. It sets out how DfID will contribute to meeting the millennium development goals (MDGs), through our commitments to water supply, sanitation and water resource management.

Over 1 billion people do not have access to safe water to drink. Over 2 billion lack adequate sanitation. Hundreds of millions of people live in areas where there is an overall and increasing shortage of water. Polluted ecosystems and poor water management have a detrimental effect on the health and livelihoods of poor people, and on economic growth. Water and sanitation are consistently among the top priorities of poor people in most developing countries. This does not, however, always result in action by governments.

The problems are complex. The approach set out in the Water Action Plan recognises that efforts to improve water supply, sanitation or water resource management are most effective when they support developing country governments' own plans. Against this background, DfID's Water Action Plan sets out a plan of work at international regional and national levels. This includes: making sure water and sanitation figure prominently in policy discussions with our main partner countries; providing evidence of the links between improved water management, water supply and sanitation and achieving all the MDGs, and ensuring that we are making use of this evidence in our policy dialogue; and improving the way the international system works, by focusing support on key international partnerships and networks, particularly those that can improve co-ordination in the water sector.

The next step is putting this action plan into operation to ensure a coherent approach to water and sanitation issues at national, regional and international levels. This will include developing milestones against which progress can he assessed. As part of its review of progress, DfID will also establish a regular water and sanitation forum in the UK for sharing knowledge and ideas with development partners.

The Water Action Plan is also available on the DfID website: www.dfid.gov.uk.