WASHINGTON D.C. – The Water for the World Act stands one step closer to achieving its goal of bringing water, sanitation and hygiene services to nations with the greatest need. Many humanitarian organizations celebrated as the Act passed unanimously in the House Foreign Affairs Committee on November 20, 2014 early morning.
The Water for the World Act builds from the Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act of 2005. The passage of the Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act of 2005 made safe water and sanitation available for many developing countries, a specific policy objective of the United States Foreign Assistance Program. The Act was named after Senator Paul Simon after he wrote his book “Tapped Out,” over a decade ago, warning the world of its impending clean water crisis.
Now recognized as Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act of 2013, H.R. 2901 works to strengthen implementation of the original bill by providing first-time or improved access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene services to the world’s poorest populations.
The bill is supported by a bipartisan union of more than 100 co-sponsors in the House, a bipartisan group of senior Senators and more than 74 non-governmental and non-profit organizations. It will make better use of existing water, sanitation and hygiene funds to ensure the greatest impact on communities worldwide without spending any new taxpayer dollars.
“With limited foreign aid resources, we need to make each dollar count. Focusing on lack of access to clean water and sanitation is one area where we can have a significant impact on the lives of others. This bill will prioritize our efforts to provide clean water and improved sanitation to enhance the health and stability of communities who need it the most around the world,” said Senator Bob Corker when he introduced the Water for the World Act of 2014 on Thursday.
The bill does not create new bureaucracy or new programs, it instead makes sanitation and hygiene programs go further with the same resources. It utilizes years of experience and planning to use drinking water, sanitation and hygiene programs that provide basic services for the world’s poor. The bill uses taxpayer dollars more resourcefully and effectively by simply applying already existing U.S. law to develop the most strategic approach to help the lives of poor people with limited dollars.
“Inadequate access to safe water and sanitation services sickens and kills thousands of children every day, and leads to poverty across the globe,” said Senator Dick Durbin during Senate discussion of the Water for the World Act of 2014 in Washington.
With the rapid rate of population growth, there is an increasing pressure on global water supplies, particularly in many developing countries. Nearly 780 million people lack access to clean water, and more than 3.4 million people die each year from a water-related disease, 99 percent of deaths occurring in the developing world.
Water issues are being increasingly associated to global health, child and maternal death rates and economic growth. As many as 1,400 children die every day from diseases caused by unsafe water, poor sanitation and lack of hygiene. Water, sanitation,and hygiene play significant roles in reducing infectious diseases such as pneumonia and diarrheal disease.
Not only does clean water and proper sanitation save lives, but it also helps children succeed. Children are able to obtain an education rather than struggle with health issues from lack of resources. Parents can work and earn an income when they do not have to care for sick children.
The Water for the World Act is the next big step toward helping billions of people around the globe who do not have access to a toilet and millions of people who lack access to drinking water. Water for the World promotes water, sanitation and hygiene programs aimed to help property-stricken areas with more efficient, long-term and sustainable impacts. The act prioritizes the well-being of the world’s poorest people by focusing on better use of taxpayer dollars, rather than asking for more.
Many nonprofit organizations are counting on supporters of the bill to help move the Water for the World Act into its final passage. The U.S. public has sent tens of thousands of letters supporting the Act. The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for review and consideration.
– Sandy Phan
Sources: Wash Advocates, Water.org, Water Aid, U.S. Congress