As the managing director of Stormsaver and a long-term supporter of WaterAid, I urge our MP Robert Jenrick to champion the need to maintain 0.7% of our country’s gross national income for aid to the world’s poorest people.
I also urge him to ensure that clean water, sanitation and hygiene are put at the heart of the UK’s international development policy.
I have seen first-hand the life-changing impact of aid on some of the world’s poorest people and, I can assure you, it is worth every penny.
Further investment in water and sanitation is one of the most cost-effective uses of the UK’s aid budget with every £1 spent returning approximately £4.
In October last year I had the privilege of visiting some of WaterAid’s projects in Mozambique on the south-west coast of Africa, which was then struggling with severe drought.
We met families whose main water source was a puddle contaminated with cow faeces near a dried-up riverbed, causing severe illness.
Soon after, thanks to money generously donated to WaterAid, they received access to clean water from a solar-powered pump, which I know will have drastically altered their quality of life.
I saw hospitals with no water to clean instruments, floors or beds.
I visited schools where children had to walk through human excrement in order to use a latrine that was simply a hole in the ground.
I heard babies crying because they had nothing to drink.I saw communities unable to grow food because of a lack of water supply and rain.
However, I also saw schools where WaterAid had installed proper toilet blocks and the children were noticeably happier and healthier.
I witnessed first-hand the benefits of their educational and advocacy work with both schools and communities.
I saw innovation with rainwater harvesting, bio-digesters and boreholes, and I felt an overwhelming sense of hope and excitement in every community I visited that WaterAid had touched.
I met the stakeholders in government and the water companies who are engaged and committed to playing their part in bringing water and sanitation to their people and working together with WaterAid and other agencies who are striving to put the UK’s aid budget to its most effective use.Access to water, sanitation and hygiene transforms lives.
Since 1990, the number of people living without clean water has halved from 1.25 billion to 663 million.
However, one in ten people still live without access to clean water and one in three still live without access to a safe toilet.
Water and sanitation help ensure children grow up healthier, get the chance to go to school and spend more time in work ensuring that the whole community thrives.
The UK government, British businesses and organisations, and ordinary supporters have contributed enormously to this progress.Cutting aid would only serve to undermine this.
The idea that there is a choice to be made between helping people at home and abroad is a false one — we can do both.I hope we can count on Robert Jenrick to show his support for international aid and protect Britain’s global reputation as a brave, generous and outward-looking nation. — LISA FARNSWORTH, managing director of Stormsaver and WaterAid supporter, Hockerton Moor Enterprise Park, Winkburn Lane, Kirklington.