Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act: 2008 Report to Congress
President George W. Bush signed the Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act of 2005 (the WfP Act) into law on December 1, 2005. The Act 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. In the 2007 fiscal year (FY), the United States obligated more than $2.4 billion in support of water activities worldwide. More than $900 million of this support funded water- and sanitation-related activities in developing countries, not including Iraq. As a result of these investments, millions of people have gained improved access to safe drinking water and sanitation; water resources are being managed more wisely and more productively; and many countries and communities are enjoying greater water security. In addition, nearly 2 million people gained first-time access to an improved water source, and more than 1.5 million gained first-time access to basic sanitation. Combined support from USAID and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) for drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene activities exceeded $590 million in FY 2007 ($212 million from USAID and $383 million from the MCC). Due to competing priorities and the completion of Middle East infrastructure projects, USAID's tion, and hygiene activities declined in FY 2007; however, these activities have become a larger part of the Agency's oportion of USAID support to drinking waterwater portfolio. supply, sanitation, and hygiene has grown from just over 40 percent of the Agency's total water investments in FY 2003 to more than 80 percent in FY 2007. In FY 2008, USAID support for drinking water supply, sanitation, and hygiene activities will likely exceed $300 million. This will further increase the proportion of water sector funding directed toward these activities. Funding for critical regions-such as Sub-Saharan Afri ca-also increased in FY 2007 for both USAID and the MCC. These investments represent a growing commitment on the part of the United States to reduce water-related diseases and to increase access to safe drinking water and sanitation in countries with critical needs. They also represent a shift away from other water-related investments that are critical for building a water-secure world, such as water resources management and water productivity.
The global water challenge remains daunting. While many countries are on track to meet the internationally agreed goals on drinking water and sanitation (see Section 1.2), many others-particularly those in Sub-Saharan Africa-are not. The lack of reliable access to acceptable quantities and quality of water not only threatens human health but also undermines economic growth and contributes to food insecurity. Water and energy are linked due not only to the role of hydropower in many countries, but also due to the energy-intensive nature of water and wastewater management. In support of U.S. foreign assistance goals, the United States is working toward a water-secure world in which individuals and countries have reliable and sustainable access to an acceptable quantity and quality of water to meet human, livelihood, ecosystem, and production needs while reducing the risks of extreme hydrological events to people, the environment, and economies. This acknowledges the interconnectedness and interdependence of activities within the water sector and the need to address water and sanitation challenges in concert with other development issues. The U.S. objectives on water are to:
- Increase access to, and effective use of, safe drinking water and sanitation to improve human health
- Improve water resources management
- Increase the productivity of water resources
The key approaches used by the United States to achieve these objectives are capacity building, institutional strengthening, and policy/regulatory reform; diplomatic engagement; direct investment; investments in science and technology; and working through partnerships. Over the past year, the Department of State and USAID have begun work on a joint strategic framework on water-"Addressing Wa ter Challenges in the Developing World: A Framework for Action" (Annex A). The purpose of the Framework is to provide embassies and USAID missions with guidelines for developing activities within their host countries to achieve U.S. objectives on water. The Framework represents the most complete statement to date of how the United States will invest its foreign assistance resources to implement the WfP Act within the context of a broader water strategy.