Through the United Nations, all the world’s countries and leading development institutions agreed on eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). These goals, established in 2000, are to be reached by 2015. The seventh goal is to ensure environmental sustainability. As this is an ambitious and complex goal, it was divided into four categories. The third category is to halve the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation; in other words, make water more accessible for everyone. The good news is that this goal has been reached five years early!
This means that two billion people gained access to improved drinking sources and over 240,000 people a day gained access to improved sanitation facilities from 1990 to 2011. Incredible work. However, the story does not end here. What about the 2.5 billion people who still lack access to improved sanitation facilities, and the 768 million people who continue to lack access to an improved source of drinking water?
Water is important–it is the source of life–therefore, it was made into one of the MDGs. Moreover, 70 percent of water is used in agriculture. This demonstrates reliance on water to produce the food needed for survival. We depend on water just as much as the millions in Africa who depend on it, but who do not have it.
Over 40 percent of all people without improved drinking water live in sub-Saharan Africa. To continue addressing this vital need the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has three major partnerships and strategies in the works.
First, through the USAID’s The Grand Challenges for Development initiative, USAID is partnering with Sweden to address the goal of Securing Water for Food. This program has three main areas of focus: water reuse and efficiency, water capture and storage, and salinity. The program focuses on engaging science and technology innovators, entrepreneurs, businesses, and academics to find innovative methods to gain better water efficiency and sustainable development.
Second, led by the USAID, Feed the Future is partnering with several universities to gather scientific expertise and innovative ideas through innovation labs. Feed the Future is the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative. This program is currently partnering with Kansas State University, Tufts University, and Oregon State University. Their collaborative research focuses on areas such as adaptive livestock systems to climate change, enhancing production of nutritious peas and gardening crops, creating more profitable market solutions for farmers in dryland areas of Africa, and demonstrating the impact of water and sanitation on nutritional security. The program is also establishing a consortium of institutions to focus on developing evidence-based research needed to inform effective policies at national, regional and global levels.
Third, the USAID has announced an expansion of services through their Water and Development Alliance (WADA) program. WADA is a partnership between the USAID and the Coca-Cola Company. WADA addresses water needs in developing countries, and the new expansion will provide more than 190,000 people with improved clean water and/or improved sanitation services by the end of 2015. WADA will support the development of infrastructure for clean water, which will benefit at least 65,000 people in Nigeria. WADA will also install sanitation facilities in schools and provide hygiene education, which will benefit 50,000 school children in Zambia. Lastly, WADA will provide clean water kiosks, benefiting more than 35,000 people in Ghana.
Through these various partnerships, the USAID continues to find innovative ways to ensure all people have sustainable access to life giving water.
– Caressa Kruth