Keys To Success - Federal Governments Overseas Health And Education Priorities

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12th May 2010, 07:48pm - Views: 740
For the Government's Overseas Health and Education Priorities to Succeed, Children and Mothers Need More Toilets, Safe Drinking Water and Basic Hygiene

Yesterday's Federal Budget delivered $180 million for sanitation and water for 2010/2011. This is a modest increase of $15m from the previous year and represents the balance of the Federal Government's 2008-2011 $300m Water and Sanitation Initiative.

"The Federal Government has shown a strong commitment to growing the overall Aid Budget. WaterAid is pleased to see this year's Budget consolidate the increased priority given to sanitation, water and hygiene in last year's Budget", said Adam Laidlaw, Chief Executive of WaterAid in Australia.

Sanitation is one of the most off-track Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The number of people without access to a toilet in the Pacific is actually increasing and on current rates of progress the target will not be met in Sub-Saharan Africa until the 23rd century. This year's budget did not show how much the Government is allocating specifically to sanitation programs.

"WaterAid and the 2.6 billion people without access to sanitation were expecting more. We estimate Australia's fair share of the cost of meeting the Millennium Development Goals for sanitation and water to be around $500 million per year. Australia needs to triple the amount allocated in this budget to meet its contribution to ending the sanitation and water crisis", said Laidlaw.

The Aid Budget is focused on Education and Health. The theme of this Budget announced by Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith was intensifying progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Investing in sanitation and water is fundamental to achieving most of the MDGs particularly the health and education Goals.

"The MDGs for child and maternal health cannot be met unless we do more on sanitation. We want the Government to take this message to the United Nations General Assembly MDG Summit in September", said Laidlaw.

"Access to sanitation and water leads to healthy children and healthy mothers and children go to schools when there are clean toilets and water in schools. Put a toilet in a school and girls stay in school. Introduce basic hygiene like hand-washing into families and provide access to water and women's health improves", said Laidlaw.

Minister Smith also announced a restructuring of AusAID. This is a welcome step and provides an opportunity for better linking sanitation, water and hygiene with health and education as a set of essential basic services.

Parliamentary Secretary Bob McMullan confirmed that this would be his final aid budget and singled out the increased focus on sanitation and water as one of his proudest achievements.

"WaterAid knows that sanitation and water transforms people's lives. Mr McMullan knows this too and he is to be commended for his strong leadership in increasing the priority of this neglected sector during his time as Parliamentary Secretary", said Laidlaw.

For all media enquiries/interviews please contact:
James Wicken
[email protected]
0403 497 316

SOURCE: WaterAid

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