WaterAid Australia is disappointed by last night’s confirmation of previous announcements of $1 billion in cuts to Australian aid.
“Yesterday the Abbott Government went ahead with the largest cuts to Australian aid in our history,” said WaterAid Australia Chief Executive Paul Nichols.
“These cuts will affect the lives of millions of people who need it most. It is critically important that the cuts announced last night have the least impact possible on the people Australian aid assists.”
“The casualties of decisions like this are the people in the communities where we work. Many WaterAid supporters will be dismayed at this latest cut to the aid program,” said Mr Nichols.
Of particular concern to WaterAid are the potential implications for people living without safe water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). Over the coming days WaterAid will be working closely with the Government and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to understand exactly what these cuts will mean for people without safe water, sanitation and hygiene. Until there is clarity over where the cuts will be made ongoing planning and implementation of work is difficult.
“Global water and sanitation challenges are felt most acutely in our region. Countries in the Pacific suffer from some of the worst water and sanitation coverage rates in the world. Only 40 percent of Papua New Guineans have access to safe water and only 19 percent have access to adequate sanitation,” said Mr Nichols.
WaterAid’s experience has shown that investment in water, sanitation and hygiene fundamentally improves people’s lives. Access to these basic services makes people healthier, keeps children in school and frees time for people to earn an income that can help move themselves and their families out of poverty.
“Beyond these benefits, water, toilets, and hygiene are also a smart investment. For every $1 spent on improved water and sanitation, there is $4 economic return to the local community and national economy. Growth in our region has multiple benefits for Australia – it furthers trade, opens up new markets for Australian business and enhances national security. Advancing the interests of our neighbours advances our interests too,” said Mr Nichols.
“Given the proven benefits access to water, sanitation and hygiene has for people’s quality of life WaterAid cautions against any cuts to this area. We urge the Federal Government to reverse its aid cuts, and ensure that investments in water and sanitation are increased in the years ahead. For the good of our neighbours, and for the good of Australia, we cannot afford not to,” said Mr Nichols.