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USAID’s Water Fund

water fund
USAID was one of many organizations to celebrate World Water Day on March 22. USAID’s Water and Development Strategy focuses on using water programs in developing countries to improve health and fight poverty.

In 2014, Senator Paul Simon created the Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act, which passed unanimously in the House and Senate, and was signed into law by President Obama. The Act supports more targeted, effective and sustainable investments in water, sanitation and hygiene, known as WASH programs.

Both the Act and Water Strategy recognize that WASH programs need to be sustainable, designed to have lasting impact over time in order to better the lives of future generations. They also need to build stronger foundations for those countries.

Approximately 2.5 billion people live without access to sanitation every day, and another 748 million live without safe drinking water. Unsanitary environments and infected water increase the chances of lifelong illnesses, low incomes, malnourishment and fatalities. In fact, an estimated 622,000 children die each year from diarrheal diseases, which is most often water-related. Every minute, a child dies from a water-related disease.

For many, the closest access to a water source is miles away, requiring hours of walking in the hot sun. Water.org conducted a survey of 45 African countries, the majority answering that women and children bear the primary responsibility for water collection in the majority of households.

If every gallon of water was supplied, women and children would have more time to take care of their homes, loved ones, attend school and earn money. For every safe sanitation facility, another girl could spend more time in school during her menstruation, avoiding the risk of sexual assault when she does not have access to a facility.

The work to increase access to water and sanitation will reduce enormous suffering. In the 2013 Fiscal Year alone, USAID’s worldwide programs helped make sanitation facilities available to nearly 1.3 million people and improved access to drinking water for more than 3.5 million people.

– Alaina Grote

Sources: Water.org,  USAID 1,  USAID 2
Photo: USAID