Announcing the ambition at last week’s Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) partnership meeting in Washington DC, UK secretary of state for international develop Andrew Mitchell said that Britain will now aim to provide support for 60 million people globally.

The meeting organised by UNICEF and the World Bank, saw ministerial delegations from almost 40 developed countries gather, alongside major donors, to make commitments to take immediate steps to speed up global access to water and sanitation.

Against a 2012 baseline, all participating countries pledged to improve water safety and access by 5% and sanitation by 7% by 2015 – helping to take the total number of people reached to about 125 million.

In addition, Dutch minister for European affairs and international cooperation, Ben Knapen, revealed a new cooperation between The Netherlands and the UK with UNICEF. This is anticipated to will bring water and sanitation to an additional 10 million people across nine countries, mostly in West and Central Africa.

In response WaterAid said it welcomed the news that the UK and other developed countries have pledged to take stronger action to improve water and sanitation globally.

WaterAid chief executive Barbara Frost, said: “The UK commitment represents a significant boost in tackling the international water and sanitation crisis which currently results in a staggering 2.5 million people dying every year from diarrhoea and other diseases caused by a lack of access to these basic services.”

The meeting also considered the economic gains to be made from investing in sanitation and water, with the group estimating that if everyone had access to sanitation and water, the global health sector would save about $15bn every year.

Carys Matthews

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