Today, more than one-billion people have no access to safe drinking water. Two-and-a-half billion people lack access to improved sanitation. Each year some one-million-eight-hundred-thousand people – ninety-percent of them children under five – die from preventable diarrheal disease. Improving water supplies, sanitation, and hygiene are essential to upgrading public health in the developing world. And the U.S. is making a considerable effort to do just that.
The U.S. State Department released its third annual report to Congress on water and sanitation strategy in developing countries. The report is required by a law enacted in 2005 making the provision of safe water and sanitation services in developing countries a component of U.S. foreign assistance.
During fiscal year 2007 the United States obligated more than two-billion-four-hundred-million dollars in support of water activities worldwide. More than nine-hundred-million dollars 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 two million people gained first-time access to an improved water source. More than one-and-a-half million people gained first-time access to basic sanitation.
Combined support from the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Millennium Challenge Corporation for drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene activities exceeded five-hundred-ninety million dollars in fiscal year 2007. In fiscal year 2008, USAID support for drinking water supply, sanitation, and hygiene activities will likely exceed three-hundred-million dollars.
In fiscal year 2007, U.S. assistance helped provide better water, sanitation, and hygiene in more than fifty countries around the world. It funded water treatment in Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Rwanda, and Zambia. It helped Bangladesh build new and rehabilitate existing water sources, providing safe drinking water for more than eight-hundred-thousand people. It built and provided technical assistance for water and sanitation infrastructure in Jordan, improving access to drinking water for some two-million people.
The global water challenge remains daunting, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. The United States Government offers its experience and resources in support of efforts by committed countries to help achieve a water secure world with sustainable quantities and quality of water to meet human, economic, and ecosystem needs.