To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps her Department has taken to increase access to clean water for drinking and sanitation in developing counties, including desalination projects, in the last three years.
The UK has strong track record of supporting people in developing countries with clean water and sanitation. In the five-year period to 2020, we helped over 60 million people to gain access to clean water and/or sanitation, having also reached over 60 million people from 2011 to 2015. This was achieved using a mix of technologies and approaches depending on the location and context. We have also supported WHO and UNICEF to strengthen national service delivery and track progress towards water and sanitation global goal targets.
Desalination processes are utilised in limited instances by FCDO partners including UNICEF, primarily in coastal areas where freshwater is scarce. The capital and operational costs of desalination can be high and care is needed to mitigate the environmental impact of the brine produced by these systems. Nevertheless, in some situations including emergencies, desalination may be less expensive than options such as water trucking from a distant source. Therefore, the UK will continue to consider desalination, alongside alternatives, where water supply is needed.