Water for the World Act of 2012: Official Summary
12/14/2011–Introduced.Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act of 2012 – Amends the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 to direct:
(1) the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to designate a Global Water Coordinator to coordinate and oversee water, sanitation, and hygiene assistance, and
(2) the Secretary of State to designate a Special Advisor for Water Resources to coordinate and oversee policy relating to water and sanitation assistance. Sets forth principles to ensure that water, sanitation, and hygiene projects carried out under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and the Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act of 2005 achieve maximum impact. Amends the Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act of 2005 regarding the strategy to further the U.S. foreign assistance objective to provide access to safe water and sanitation in developing countries to:
(1) transfer primary authority from the Secretary to USAID,
(2) include hygiene, and
(3) include designation of high priority countries. Directs the Administrator to maintain a webpage for information on U.S. water, sanitation, and hygiene foreign assistance programs.
Please consider signing this:
What’s the difference between water and clean water?
For some people, their lives.
When I rush out the door to get to work and school, I barely have time to grab my coffee and belongings before the long day ahead. I can’t even imagine tallying the hours upon hours of sick-time and travel time if I, like so many people around the world, didn’t have access to an everyday necessity: clean water.
Travelling miles to bring back the water your family cooks with, bathes in, and drinks is a chore that can keep young boys and girls from making it to school. And, if the water familes fetch is contaminated, the diarrhea and disease they will suffer can keep them from earning wages and getting an education.
Unclean water causes death for some of the 900 million people worldwide that must drink from contaminated water supplies. The bottom line is, clean water should not be a luxury item, and it should not be the cause of preventable death.
The Water for the World Act won’t add expensive new programs to our development efforts around the world. Instead, it strives for efficiency by taking the clean water programs already have in place and improving how they’re targeted. That kind of improvement will save lives.
Join us in sending a message to Congress today: Urge your representatives to bring clean water to 100 million people by signing off on the Water for the World Act.
- signatures: 1,395
- deadline: ongoing
- signature goal: 10,000
- Target: U.S. Congress
- Sponsored by: U.S. Fund for UNICEF
Ask your legislators to help give 100 million people their first access to clean drinking water and improved sanitation by supporting the Water For the World Act!
Read more about the act:
Yesterday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Passed the Water for the World Act – a step forwards towards enacting important legislation that could bring safe drinking water and basic sanitation to as many as 100 million people around the Globe. Water and sanitation are basic human rights, and with over 800 million people lacking access to safe drinking water and over 2.5 billion people – more than a third of the world’s population – lacking a toilet, passing this legislation should be a no-brainer. In fact, Water for the World has bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate, so it’s time for the House to start taking steps to passing this legislation as well. To this end, the CEOs of 33 U.S.-based organizations including NRDC President Frances Beinecke sent a letter today to the House of Representatives asking Members to cosponsor and support the Water for the World Act on the House side.
Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) is not just a human rights issue. Rather, as the CEOs write in the letter: “WASH aids in our collective efforts to ensure all children can succeed in primary school, to advance food security and nutrition, to promote sustainable water resource management, and to reduce poverty.” The House and Senate versions of the legislation have some differences, but ultimately, both seek to provide safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene for millions of people, largely by improving upon the 2005 Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act and making the way that the United States provides foreign aid on water and WASH projects more efficient. Water for the World would:
- Increase coordination of WASH with other programs. The House legislation finds that, “For maximum effectiveness of assistance, safe drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene must be coordinated with and integrated into programs and strategies for food security, global health, environment, education, and gender equality.” It goes on to say that USAID should carry out this integration at the Global Water Coordinator level and at the USAID Mission Director level. The coordination that the Senate legislation calls for has a more environmental focus, indicating that one of the responsibilities of the State Department Special Coordinator for Water Resources will be to “oversee and coordinate the diplomatic policy of the United States Government with respect to global freshwater issues, including interagency coordination related to sustainable access to safe drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene; integrated river basin and watershed management; global food security; transboundary conflict; agricultural and urban productivity of water resources; disaster recovery, response, and rebuilding; pollution mitigation; and adaptation to hydrologic change due to climate variability.”
- Enhance USAID and Department of State capacity at headquarters, through existing offices and positions, and at mission levels, to improve partnerships and technical capacity of in-country implementers and national governments, so that country leadership in planning, implementing and evaluating WASH programs can be prioritized. Having higher level water coordinators in USAID and the State Department is also critical for being able to successfully integrate WASH and other programs.
- Increase the sustainability and local ownership of WASH projects. The Senate legislation calls for the Secretary of State and USAID Administrator to build the capacity of host countries to “provide affordable, equitable, and sustainable access to safe drinking water and sanitation; educate the populations of such countries about the dangers of unsafe drinking water and lack of proper sanitation; and encourage behavior change to reduce individuals’ risk of disease from unsafe drinking water and lack of proper sanitation and hygiene.” And In the House legislation, Section 5 is focused on “Increasing Sustainability of Safe Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Projects and Activities.” These pieces of the legislation are critical, because if we want to make meaningful, long-term changes in people’s lives on the water and sanitation front, we need to be working not just towards providing first-time access to infrastructure but also access to long term services and behavior changes. Just because there’s a latrine installed doesn’t mean people will use it, know how to empty it when it needs to be emptied, or know how to repair it.
- Improve targeting of WASH funding, recognizing that the poorest people stand to benefit most from receiving access to these services. Specifically, the House legislation indicates that, “Projects and activities should be targeted to the poorest and most vulnerable countries and communities, including women and girls, displaced persons and refugees, and other marginalized populations.”
- Support research and regional partnerships to continue our learning and support innovative and effective solutions.
- Once again call on U.S. Government to produce the comprehensive, multi-year strategy water strategy that they have been supposed to produce since the passage of the 2005 Water for the Poor Act. The Water for the Poor Act called on the State Department to produce the strategy. However, USAID has taken the lead on producing the strategy. The House legislation officially shifts the responsibility for producing the WASH strategy to USAID, and calls for the strategy to be produced by January 1, 2013 that covers the next four years.
In short, this legislation would help individuals and communities in desperate need, and make the work that the United States is already doing to help more meaningful and efficient. Both the House and the Senate versions are good pieces of legislation on their own and which, if merged, have the potential to be even stronger. To continue to move this legislation forward, Members of Congress should join H.R.3658 – the Water for the World Act – as cosponsors, and call on the House Foreign Affairs Committee to move the bill – as our CEOs have called on them to do. Then the full House and the full Senate should pass the legislation. You can take action and ask your Senators and Representative to support Water for the World here.
Family collecting water in Haiti. Credit: water.org.