Developing Countries: Sanitation and Hygiene

International Development – in the House of Commons on 29th April 2020.

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Photo of John McNally John McNally Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Environment)

What recent steps she has taken to help ensure that people in developing countries have adequate access to water, sanitation and hygiene facilities during the covid-19 pandemic.

Photo of Wendy Morton Wendy Morton Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Joint with the Department for International Development)

Hand washing with soap and water, as we are all recognising, is the first line of defence against coronavirus transmission. The UK has world-leading commercial and scientific expertise on water, sanitation and hygiene. DFID has launched a £100 million scheme with British soap company Unilever to promote hygiene in developing countries, and has given a further £20 million to UNICEF to strengthen its coronavirus response in these areas. We are helping people around the world to defeat this virus.

Photo of John McNally John McNally Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Environment)

The International Rescue Committee has highlighted that hand-washing facilities are absolutely crucial in preventing the spread of diseases in the developing world. Our experience of Ebola shows that NGOs currently working on the ground are best placed to scale up an emergency response, so I welcome the funding given to the Red Cross and others, but what plans does the Secretary of State have to increase funding to other local NGOs working within communities?

Photo of Wendy Morton Wendy Morton Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Joint with the Department for International Development)

Good hygiene is the single most effective action an individual can take to prevent covid-19 transmission; that is absolutely an important point. Water sanitation and hygiene are a key part of DFID’s work and vital in humanitarian crises. DFID funds the provision of safe water and sanitation in disaster areas across the globe. Since 2015, DFID has helped over 51 million poor people in Africa and Asia get access to a drinking water supply or toilet for the first time. But we recognise there is still more to do.