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Water is essential to human life. Every person on earth needs at least 20 to 50 liters of clean, safe water each day for drinking, cooking, and basic hygiene. But rapid population growth is putting serious strain on diminishing supplies of clean water, especially in developing nations.
Some 884 million people, about one in 8 worldwide, lack reliable access to clean water. Among the tragic results of this shortage -- more than 3.5 million people die each year die of preventable water-related diseases. Tens of millions of others are made ill from polluted water.
The United States, in cooperation with its international partners, has long played a leading role in helping deliver safe drinking water to vulnerable populations. At a meeting of the World Water Forum in Stockholm, Sweden, this month, the U.S. Department of State announced a grant aimed at improving water safety in Latin America and the Caribbean. The grant was awarded in mid-June to the International Water Association, a non-governmental organization working to improve global water quality.
The U.S. Department of State grant will support the ongoing development of a regional Water Safety Plan Network to promote an effective means of consistently ensuring the safety of drinking water through the use of a comprehensive risk assessment approach that covers every stage of clean water production from catchment to use by consumers.
The partnership will allow the International Water Association to establish a regional office in Lima, Peru, with the U.S. State Department providing start-up funding for a local coordinator. The Water Safety Plan Network will help spread the knowledge needed to ensure sustainable access to safe drinking water as well as encourage multidisciplinary teamwork and interaction between water professionals in the public and private sectors who are concerned about drinking water quality and related sanitary issues.
Since 2006, the U.S. government has supported the promotion of water safety programs by funding demonstrations and the creation of the Water Safety Plan Network to ensure longer term sustainability throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.
In fiscal year 2008, the U.S. government obligated more than $1 billion for global water and sanitation-related activities. Working closely with host country partner governments, civil society, and other donors, the U.S. is committed to increasing equitable and affordable access to safe water and sanitation in developing nations.