USAID Celebrates 2012 World Water Day
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) commemorates World Water Day. USAID's mission is a water secure future, free from water borne disease, where food is available and affordable and populations are less vulnerable to the risks of a changing planet.
Towards achieving this goal, USAID supports the Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act. One of the objectives of the Act is to focus the U.S. Government's (USG) investments on achieving the Millennium Development Goal Targets to cut in half the number of people without access to water and sanitation.
The international community has achieved the target for water supply 3 years before the deadline. USAID, the USG and its partners, in this effort, have provided first time access for millions around the globe.
"Even as we celebrate the news that the world has successfully halved the number of people without access to water and sanitation, it is important to remember that significant disparities still exist between and within countries," said USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah. "We will continue to work closely with the many countries that have not achieved their individual country MDG target for water supply, especially in sub-Saharan Africa."
Since 2010, some of the most noteworthy achievements undertaken by the USG and its partners include:
Globally, to support promising new approaches in the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) sector, USAID, with co-funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, launched the WASH for Life partnership. Over the next four years, the $17 million partnership will identify, test, and help scale evidence-based approaches for cost-effective and sustained services in developing countries. WASH for Life is particularly interested in interventions that operate in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Ghana, Haiti, India, Kenya, and Nigeria.
To attract additional private capital to meet development needs in Africa, two weeks ago, USAID signed an agreement with the Japanese International Cooperation Agency to work together to expand opportunities for private participation in the water sector in Africa and an expanded flow of financing to the sector with the support of its Development Credit Authority.
To underpin the sustainability of partners in Africa, USAID initiated important programs that will help to improve water security for millions of Africans across the continent by strengthening service providers and sector associations. Specifically, USAID is supporting both the African Ministers' Council on Water and the African Water Association (AfWA) including AfWA's twinning program among African utilities whereby service providers are able to share expertise and develop appropriate solutions to service issues. The USAID supported Sustainable Water and Sanitation in Africa program complements this work by engaging with local utilities and the financial sector to mobilize sector financing and enhance the creditworthiness of providers.
In Haiti, the USAID WINNER program is helping to improve agriculture production and protect Haiti's watersheds, a critical source of water. The program has rehabilitated irrigation water canals, reinforced riverbanks to prevent flooding, and constructed water catchment and distribution systems. For example, in fiscal year 2011, USAID rehabilitated and maintained four different irrigation systems that together have the potential to irrigate 15,000 hectares of corn, beans, rice, vegetables, and other crops. USAID programs are also helping to protect Haitians from water-borne diseases such as cholera. Global health programs support a range of interventions for increasing access to potable drinking water as well as communication activities in health facilities and local communities to promote positive behavior change related to hygiene and sanitation.
In Indonesia, USAID began a five-year, $34 million Water, Sanitation and Hygiene WASH project to reach more than 2 million of Indonesia's urban poor. USAID is supporting the use of microcredit to increase access to improved water sources.
In March 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and World Bank President Robert Zoellick signed a Memorandum of Understanding related to cooperation in the water sector between the United States Government (USG) and the World Bank. Since then, this partnership has led to programs concentrating on communications and knowledge management, water resources management, WASH, water productivity, remote sensing, and science and technology.
As USAID reflects upon its continuing efforts to meet the massive global water challenge, the Agency believes the essential elements of success will be its ability to:
- undertake a "whole of government approach";
- apply science technology and innovation;
- partner effectively;
- integrate water programs with food security, global health and climate change efforts;
- integrate gender into all of its water programs.
Looking ahead, by next World Water Day, the Agency hopes to have launched a new water strategy which will provide guidance and direction to the agency in incorporating these elements of success into all water efforts --- thereby helping to make significant advances in the collective efforts to save and improve lives through its water programs.
For more information about the U.S. Government's recent MOU signing with the World Bank to address water issues, please visit: http://www.usaid.gov/press/factsheets/2012/fs120322.html.