Along with countless other NGOs, Just a Drop is alarmed at the Government’s continued resolve to cut the aid budget from 0.7% of Gross National Income to just 0.5%. To decide to cut spending on WASH by 80% when countries around the world are still suffering from the Covid-19 pandemic is deeply troubling. Our FCDO approved WASH project in Cambodia would have increased access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene for rural poor households, benefitting 12,216 people, helping to reduce the spread of coronavirus, as well as improving the health, livelihoods and education of thousands of people, especially women and girls. 


In addition to the huge reduction in the delivery of safe water, sanitation and hygiene across the world, progress towards 5 of the UK Government’s 7 Development Goals will also be reduced: 

Climate and biodiversity – Improved WASH fosters stewardship of the water catchment and environment and achieves Open Defecation Free communities. Reducing wood burning to boil water reduces climate change.  

Global health security - It is critical to achieve hygiene behaviour change now to reduce the spread of Covid-19, as well other diseases. The link between dirty water, poor sanitation and hygiene and malnutrition, especially in children under 5 years is well recognised, and many people cannot afford medicines. Open defecation increases disease. Fires to boil water cause respiratory disease from pollution in the home. 

Girls’ education - The coronavirus pandemic is making the gender inequalities so much worse. Women and girls already carry the greatest burden of poverty, miss school and work due to fetching water for the family, and caring for sick family members, and face security risks from open defecation by attack and abduction.   Women and girls face challenges managing periods due to lack of knowledge and materials, so girls miss school every month and are more likely to drop out of school early. Clean water, adequate sanitation, and WASH and MHH training in communities and schools creates a better future, lifting women and girls out of poverty, and helping girls continue school. 

Open societies and conflict resolution – Improved WASH, poverty reduction and improved health all directly contribute to this goal. Community training, National Sanitation Day Celebrations, and village clean ups greatly improve social cohesion and improve the ability of communities to work together for peaceful open societies.  

Economic development and trade - Improved WASH reduces sickness and time fetching water, which frees up time for income generation and education.  It also frees up valuable household income previously spent on medicine and hospital bills. Poverty reduction, improved health, livelihoods and education all contribute to economic development and sustainability. Further spread of Covid-19 due to the lack of WASH and effective management has broader implications on local livelihoods and economies.  


Our Chair, Fiona Jeffery OBE, said the following:  

“Whilst the Government decision is particularly hard for the communities we work with, the broader implications of these aid cuts are truly concerning for the charity sector and communities around the world. Whilst the pandemic rages on and progress of vaccination is dangerously slow in many lower-income countries, the decision to slash the foreign aid budget is short-sighted and dangerous  

 This decision will delay our collective progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, to provide safe water and sanitation for all and protect communities against Covid-19, and achieve quality education, food security and gender equality.    

 I hope the Government realise the profound implications these cuts will have on communities across the world and reverse their decision. To do so makes strategic, financial and above all, moral sense.” 

If you agree that the UK Government should reverse this decision, please consider writing to your MP here.