Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act: 2009 Report to Congress

from US Department of State
Published on 30 Jun 2009 View Original

- The United States obligated more than $1 billion in support of water and sanitation

- More than $815 million was obligated to improve access to safe drinking water and sanitation and promote hygiene in 95 countries worldwide

- Investments in all water and sanitation activities in Sub-Saharan Africa reached more than $648 million

- USAID's drinking water and sanitation for 7.7 million and 6.3 million people, respectively

Executive Summary

The Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act of 2005 (the WfP Act) was signed into law on December 1, 2005. The Act makes access to safe water and sanitation a specific policy objective of U.S. foreign assistance.

It requires the Secretary of State, in consultation with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and other U.S. Government agencies, to develop and implement a strategy "to provide affordable and equitable access to safe water and sanitation in developing countries" within the context of sound water resources management. It also requires the Secretary of State, in consultation with the USAID Administrator, to submit an annual report to Congress describing changes in the

U.S. strategy and progress in achieving the objectives of the WfP Act. This is the fourth report to Congress since the passage of the WfP Act.

In FY 2008, the United States obligated more than $1 billion for water- and sanitation-related activities in developing countries (excluding Iraq). Of that amount, over $815 million was obligated in 95 countries worldwide to improve access to safe drinking water and sanitation and promote hygiene. Investments in Sub-Saharan Africa rose to $648.7 million in FY 2008, largely due to obligations by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) under Compacts signed in FY 2007. The United States is one of the largest bilateral donors to water and sanitation activities in developing countries, accounting for 10 percent of all official assistance to the water and sanitation sector in 2006-2007. The United States also remains one of the largest donors to several multilateral development banks and intergovernmental organizations, which are significant contributors to water and sanitation projects.

While many U.S. agencies and departments contribute to international water and sanitation efforts, USAID and MCC provide the vast majority of U.S. financial support for international water and sanitation programs. In FY 2008, USAID obligated $489.6 million for water- and sanitation-related activities in 75 countries. Obligations for improving access to safe drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene increased 45 percent over FY 2007 and represented 79.6 percent of overall water-related obligations. Resources committed to water resources management and water productivity increased over FY 2007 but remain a very small percentage of overall support for water and sanitation. Funding support to the Sub-Saharan Africa region nearly doubled over 2008 and now represents 43 percent of total USAID support-more than to any other region. USAID also exceeded the 2008 statutory requirement in the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act that "... not less than $300,000,000 shall be made available for safe drinking water and sanitation supply projects, including water management related to safe drinking water and sanitation." As a result of USAID investments, more than 7.7 million people received improved access to safe drinking water and nearly 6.3 million received improved access to sanitation. Of these, more than 4.6 million received first-time access to an improved drinking water source and more than 2.1 million to improved sanitation. USAID-sponsored activities to improve the quality of water at its point of use resulted in more than 7.4 billion liters of disinfected drinking water.

In FY 2008, the MCC obligated $546.9 million to water- and sanitation-related activities, a significant increase from FY 2007. Nearly 80 percent ($429.0 million) of the total was obligated for safe drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene projects. The MCC also committed $166.4 million for water and sanitation activities in Burkina Faso, Mongolia, and Tanzania. Forty-one percent of these new commitments are for drinking water and sanitation projects; 98 percent are directed towards urban areas.

Previous reports to Congress have developed a broad strategic framework to advance U.S. efforts to achieve water security in developing countries. This report presents-for the first time-country specific plans for achieving U.S. goals and objectives along with measurable indicators to track progress and report results. Future reports will include plans for each of the U.S. priority countries. The report also highlights the work of U.S. agencies and departments to build partnerships, improve science and technology capacity, and increase political will among developing and donor countries to address water and sanitation challenges. Finally, this report builds on the USAID/DOS Joint Framework for Action by giving special consideration to three key emerging challenges: increasing access to safe drinking water and sanitation, and promoting hygiene for the poorest populations; responding to climate change; and increasing food productivity.

Almost two out of three people without access to clean water live on less than $2 a day. In urban areas, rapid migration into cities often outpaces governments' people. Many water and sanitation utilities have poor performance records and have failed to increase access for the urban poor. In rural areas where community management of water supply and sanitation prevails, obstacles to expanding and maintaining services to the poor include difficulties in accessing credit, mobilizing competent staff, and engaging the private sector. Recommended responses include mobilizing pro-poor financing for infrastructure improvements; supporting innovative service delivery alternatives; increasing demand among the poor for water, sanitation, and hygiene services; and increasing political will to address the needs of the poor and advance pro-poor policies.

Climate change will likely have a profound impact on the hydrologic cycle. Experts predict that wet regions are likely to become wetter (increasing the likelihood of floods) and that dry regions will likely become drier

(increasing the likelihood of droughts, food insecurity, environmental degradation, and reduced water availability for human consumption). Rising sea levels increase the risk of storm surges, flood damage, and saltwater intrusion into freshwater supplies. Changing hydrologic conditions may undermine countries abilities to comply with long-standing treaty regimes for managing shared waters. Recommended responses include reducing the energy costs of water management; building resilience into water and sanitation activities and infrastructure; addressing water quality and health; increasing water-related disaster preparedness; fostering cooperation on shared waters; sharing advances in science and technology; and improving water resources planning and management.

Insufficient quantities and quality of freshwater resources threaten to reduce the global food supply by more than 10 percent in the next 25 years. Aquifer depletion, salinization of soils, and the reallocation of agricultural water to other sectors and users will combine to limit irrigated crop production and lead to food insecurity, particularly for the poorest. Changes in precipitation and heat levels are also projected to diminish agricultural productivity, further threatening food security. Studies suggest that at least 20 percent more irrigation water will be needed by 2025 to meet projected food demand in developing countries. Because many developing countries depend heavily on rainfed agriculture, they are particularly vulnerable to changes in precipitation patterns and droughts. Recommended responsesabilities to provide services to the poorest include increasing water storage and conservation; increasing the efficiency of water use; improving forecasting; and enhancing the ability of crops to adapt to and moderate the effects of a changing environment.

This report reflects the input of more than 14 U.S. Government Agencies and Departments and complements work by other U.S. Government agencies to address international water and sanitation issues. (See the USAID 2008 annual report on water-expected August 2009-for a review of USAID programmatic activities in 2008.) In support of the WfP Act, USAID has developed guidelines and conducted training to build the capacity of field staff, and many U.S. agencies have integrated the goals of the WfP Act into their own plans and strategies. The DOS and USAID continue to consult broadly with other agencies and donors and to strengthen interagency coordination and consultations with nongovernment experts on emerging priorities. The United States will continue to build on these relationships as we implement the WfP Act and work towards a more water-secure world.