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Clean Water - A Global Challenge

More than 2,400 professionals from science, business, government, and academia met in Stockholm, Sweden, August 17th to 23rd, to discuss a growing global challenge – safe water and sanitation.

More than 2,500,000,000 people lack access to adequate sanitation. Each year, poor sanitation causes the deaths of some 1,400,000 children around the world. Michael McClain is the director of the Global Water for Sustainability, or GLOWS, program at the United States Agency for International Development, or USAID. He said the conference in Stockholm sought to draw attention to the gap between sanitation delivery and safe water delivery. "Twice as many people in the world lack access to adequate sanitation as lack access to safe drinking water," he said.

Mr. McClain said inadequate sanitation is a life-and-death issue for millions of people and demands concerted, international action. "The U.S. government," said Dr. McClain, "is committed each year to investing hundreds of millions of dollars in a very strategic manner in water supply and sanitation around the world, carried out primarily through USAID programs. U.S. aid targets investments in facilities, technical capacity building, community hygiene education and strengthening governance structures."

To improve water supply and sanitation in Asia, USAID recently signed an agreement with the International Water Association, a non-governmental organization made up leading water professionals around the world, and the Asian Development Bank. The pact established a partnership to improve access to sanitation and clean drinking water by providing training and mentoring to water operators throughout Asia.

To enhance public health conditions in Latin America and the Caribbean, the Centers for Disease Control's National Center for Environmental Health is working with international and local partners to help water-service providers improve the reliability of drinking-water systems.

Through USAID's Global Development Commons, a strategy to promote integrated action among development partners, and through initiatives like USAID's Global Development Commons and Global Water for Sustainability or GLOWS, the U.S. government is working with international partners to provide safe drinking water, sustainable water resources, adequate sanitation, and health eco-systems throughout the world.