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close this bookAddressing the Water Crisis - Healthier and more Productive Lives for Poor People (DFID, 2001, 58 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentThe international development targets
View the documentOther Strategy Papers published in this series
View the documentDepartment for International Development
View the documentAcknowledgments
View the documentList of Acronyms
View the documentForeword by the Secretary of State
View the documentExecutive summary
Open this folder and view contents1. The challenges
Open this folder and view contents2. Target statements
Open this folder and view contents3. Experience to date
Open this folder and view contents4. Meeting the challenge
Open this folder and view contents5. Priorities for DFID
Open this folder and view contents6. Monitoring progress
Open this folder and view contentsAnnexes
View the documentBack Cover

Foreword by the Secretary of State

This paper is one of a set. Together, they spell out actions which could transform the lives of hundreds of millions of poor people and make the planet a better and safer place for our children and grandchildren. They say what needs to be done to achieve key targets for international development.

These international development targets have been agreed by the entire United Nations membership, following a series of summit meetings held by the UN and its Specialised Agencies over the past ten years or so. The meetings discussed progress in poverty reduction and sustainable development and set targets for measuring that progress.

In the past, targets have often been set and then disregarded. This time, however, the international community is giving them greater weight. In 1996, all the main Western donor countries, grouped together in the OECD, committed themselves to a partnership with developing countries and countries in transition from centrally planned economies. The success of this partnership would be measured against key targets from the UN Summits. In the following year, the new British Government made these targets the centrepiece of its 1997 White Paper on International Development. More recently the World Bank and IMF decided to co-ordinate their development efforts behind the targets. These targets are listed on the inside front cover.

Neither Britain nor any other individual donor country can achieve the targets alone. The targets are challenging, some particularly so. But it, by working together, we can increase the effectiveness of the international community, our assessment is that these targets are achievable for developing and transition countries as a group by the target date, or soon after in some cases, even though they may not be achieved in each region or country individually. It is clear that each developing country must lead the effort if the targets are to be achieved. If this commitment is lacking civil society institutions need to press their governments to take action as, without a local lead, progress cannot be achieved. The international community, in turn, must provide support for those governments committed to the reforms which are necessary to achieve the targets. Most countries should be able to register very considerable progress towards meeting the targets by the due dates.

Sustainable access to safe water for drinking, and water for agriculture and the environment, plays an important part in achieving a number of the key UN targets, and the availability of appropriate sanitation is closely aligned with a reduction in communicable disease. This paper is about water supply and sanitation and water for food in the context of broader water resources issues.

At the beginning of the UN Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade (1981-1990), an ambitious target of universal access to safe water and affordable sanitation for all was set for the end of the decade. This target was subsequently extended to the year 2000. Now we have passed the latter date. Although progress has been achieved on improved access to safe water, there are still 1 billion people without this access, and the availability of appropriate sanitation has improved only very slowly with 2.4 billion living in unhealthy environments due to lack of sanitation. So new and credible targets were urgently needed, both for water supply and sanitation and for water resources management, in order to refocus the efforts of governments and the development community.

Significant efforts were made in preparation for the Second World Water Forum in The Hague to develop credible international targets for implementing comprehensive water strategies and for sustainable access to safe water and affordable sanitation. The Millennium Summit's ministerial declaration (September 2000) includes a target for water supply and refers to the need for improved water resources management. It is silent on sanitation. Our task is to support processes that will lead to international agreement on a sanitation target, and further embed water supply and water resources targets. The paper suggests how governments, the donor community in general and others can meet these targets and goes on to discuss the specific role that DFID might play.

Targets need to be used intelligently. They cannot capture the full richness and complexity of individual and collective transformation that makes for sustainable development. Individual countries should select and debate in normal democratic ways their own measures of achievement. But regular public assessment of how countries as a group and by region are performing against a simple standard is essential, in order to focus development assistance on achieving real outputs. Doing so will show what works and what does not, will provide accountability for the efforts being made in the name of development, and will give impetus to extending basic life opportunities that should be available to all.

Targets also need to be grounded in reality. For this, we should not underestimate the value of good statistics. The political debate in Britain was strongly influenced by 19th and early 20th century surveys documenting the reality of grinding poverty in our own society. A similar effort of political will is needed in many developing and transition countries if they are to give sufficient emphasis to the needs of their own poor people. Better quality and more accessible information on people's standards of living is one essential element in creating that will. Much work is needed to improve the collection of reliable and comparable data, and to strengthen local statistical capacity.

These papers do not attempt to provide detailed plans; they will follow, country by country and institution by institution, from discussions with developing countries and the relevant institutions. Many detailed proposals for action in pursuit of the targets are published, or soon will be, as Country and Institutional Strategy Papers. Our bilateral programmes are being reshaped. We are also encouraging the multilateral development institutions in the same direction. One example of this is the policy of the International Development Association - the concessional lending arm of the World Bank - which following its Twelfth Replenishment now focuses on poverty elimination in the context of the International Development Targets. Another example is the enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Debt Initiative, agreed at the IMF and World Bank in September 1999, which has started to deliver faster, deeper and broader debt relief to countries committed to eradicating poverty. The G8 Summit in Okinawa endorsed the targets and asked for annual reports on progress.

We must also take advantage of the increased wealth being generated by “globalisation”, to help achieve the international development targets. The UK Government's second White Paper on International Development, focuses on managing the process of globalisation to the benefit of poor people.

This paper and the others in the collection assess the challenge and set out an overall approach and strategy for our involvement in achieving the development targets in a clear, focused and realistic way. Each reflects a process of consultation in the United Kingdom and overseas.

I hope that you will find them a valuable statement of what the British Government will do and how the United Kingdom seeks to use its influence to make a reality of the targets, to which we and the rest of the United Nations membership are committed. We stand ready to be judged against our delivery of this strategy. And the whole development community - governments, international agencies, civil society organisations - should be judged collectively against delivery of the targets.

Secretary of State for International Development