WASHINGTON, D.C. – In 2005, a bill was introduced on behalf of Senator Paul Simon called Water for the Poor Act. According to GovTrack, a government transparency website, the act was designed “to make access to safe water and sanitation for developing countries a specific policy objective of the United States foreign assistance programs, and for other purposes.”
With the 2005 legislation serving as a precedent, the Water for the World Act (H.R. 2901) was introduced in 2013. Water for the World utilizes the same programs as Water for the Poor, but applies new knowledge to create the best possible programs for implementing water, sanitation and hygiene practices.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) reports that while it is concentrating on strengthening the Act’s effectiveness, it is also focused on cost. The Water for the World Act will place a limited burden on the taxpayers, relying instead on current government funds.
Furthermore, implementation programs within the Water for the World Act may actually boost the global economy. If passed, studies estimate that every dollar invested into the Water for the World Act will be returned four times over. If the Act’s services are provided for all those who need it, this means that $220 billion will be reinvested in the world’s economy every year.
Water for the World also has a humanitarian benefit. People living in impoverished regions of the world suffer and die from diseases that can be easily prevented by basic hygiene. For instance, diarrhea, one of the deadliest diseases in the developing world, could be limited by increased hand-washing.
Both sides of the partisan divide have openly voiced their support of the bill. Lead Senate Republican Bob Corker said, “I’m a fiscal conservative and want to see each of our foreign aid dollars go as far as possible, and I believe water is one of the wisest places we can invest.”
Democrat supporter Dick Durbin agrees. “Water access is no longer simply a global health and development issue; it is a mortal and long-term threat that is increasingly becoming a national security issue. The United States needs to do much more to ensure that global water access is protected and expanded.”
– Laura Reinacher
Sources: Huffington Post, Senate, GOV Track