Mrs Long was speaking before an Adjournment Debate she brought to the House of Commons today (Tuesday), which focused on the need for continued emphasis on sanitation and hygiene in the developing world, a problem that particularly affects females.
The East Belfast MP, a former civil engineer, has a long-standing interest in clean water and sanitation, and has brought her concerns around the issue to Parliament on several occasions. In addition, she works closely with a number of development charities.
She said it was fitting that International Women’s Day and World Water Day fell so close together due to their interlinking.
“One in three people worldwide lack access to basic sanitation facilities and, while portable water is important to everyone, improving the local water supply in developing nations can be particularly beneficial to women, where they are often responsible for the collection of water.
“Young girls are often taken out of school to help collect water and as a result, their education and life suffer. In other cases, women are forced to defecate in the open or ditches, often having to walk long distances to do so in order to preserve their dignity and privacy. This places their personal safety at great risk while they are doing something we all take for granted.
“International momentum must be increased if the Millennium Development Goals are to be reached next year. For my part, I will continue to press the Government to take action to ensure water, sanitation and hygiene are at the forefront of both international development. Put simply, without water, nothing else works.”