Earlier this week I was called into hospital for an operation. Although minor it was to be performed under a general anaesthetic and I was instructed not eat anything in the five hours before my admission, and drink only water up to an hour before admission.
Not difficult in this country. I have a choice of four different taps in my house, all of which supply amazingly pure, fresh, totally safe drinking water. As a bonus I also have a WC from which I can flush "waste" to be scientifically disposed off without any effort from me, and a bidet (the French influence) which will enable me to squirt pure water at what my doctor delicately calls "the area" so that I can clean it after defecation.
Not so in many parts of the world.
Abut 750 million of the world's population (almost one in 10, in total more than the current UK population) do not have access to a regular supply of clean drinkable water. A much larger number, 2.5bn, (about one in three) do not have access to sanitation facilities which allow them to defecate in private, with dignity, under hygienic conditions.
I have discussed this in a post last year published on World Toilet Day (19th November). I shall probably do so again this year.
So what is this government of "Global Britain" going to do about it?
As reported in the Guardian yesterday, as part of the reduction of the parliamentary approved and legally binding 0.7% of GDP to 0.5%, the the total budget for WASH (Water,Sanitation and Hygiene - everything has to have an acronym) is to be cut by 64%, which will involve a reduction of 80% in our assistance to poorer countries in their efforts to enable their citizens to have access to clean drinkable water.
This at a time when we in the rich world have had hammered into us day after day the importance of hygienic practices and washing our hands for the time it takes to sing Happy Birthday twice more frequently than we'd ever thought sensible.
As WaterAid's* chief executive has said: "There is never a good time to cut the [WASH] budget, but the middle of the worst [world] pandemic for 100 years must be one of the worst."
We do not have to cut our aid expenditure. It is a pittance, a mere 70p in every £100 we generate, compared to what we have spent on ourselves to protect ourselves and our children from the Coronavirus pandemic. It is merely being done to placate some hard right Tory nationalist desperate to avoid a drift of the their support to a resurgent quasi UKIP.
Add to this our cuts of up to two thirds in assistance to war-torn countries such as Yemen (where we continue to supply arms to Saudi Arabia who do the bombing) Libya, Syria and Somalia; have a Home Secretary who appears to be content to allow migrants and asylum seekers trying to do their best for their families to drown in the Channel; and generates a hostile environment for those who do manage to get here.
I am ashamed to be part of this global Britain.
*If you would like to contribute to WaterAid you can access their site at