For Immediate Release
Press Contact Information:
joldfield (at) washinitiative.org
Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act of 2011 Introduced to Enable Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation for 100 Million of World’s Poorest
WASH Advocacy Initiative Applauds Introduction of Bill as One of the Most Effective Steps to Improving Global Health and Alleviating Poverty Worldwide
WASHINGTON DC, (March 18, 2011) — Legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate yesterday by Assistant Senate Majority Leader Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) would put the United States in the lead of responding to the worldwide safe drinking water and sanitation crisis. The Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act of 2011 would commit the United States to extending safe, affordable and sustainable supplies of drinking water and sanitation to 100 million people within six years. This major bipartisan initiative would put the United States at the forefront of addressing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for drinking water and sanitation.
The WASH Advocacy Initiative commends Senators Durbin and Corker for their leadership on this important issue, and thanks the five other senators who have signed onto the bill as original cosponsors: Harry Reid (D-NV), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), and Patrick Leahy (D-VT).
“We applaud the leadership of Senator Durbin, Senator Corker, and their colleagues in working to provide 100 million people in developing countries with sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation,” said Gary White, Chairman of the WASH Advocacy Initiative. “This is one of the most effective – and one of the most efficient – actions the United States can take to improve health and alleviate poverty worldwide.” Each dollar invested in safe drinking water and sanitation provides an eight dollar (8:1) return on that investment in reduced healthcare costs and time savings.
Patti Simon, wife of the late Senator Paul Simon, said “We shouldn’t forget that the global water and sanitation challenge is solvable – we know the solutions today. This new legislation will help make those solutions a reality. Paul would be proud to see this bill being introduced to address an issue that was a priority for him in Congress, and pleased that leaders like Senator Durbin and Senator Corker are taking the challenge seriously.”
“Access to safe drinking water is a right that everyone in the world ought to enjoy but too few are able to realize,” Assistant Senate Majority Leader Durbin said. “Water access is no longer simply a global health and development issue; it is a mortal and long-term threat that is increasingly becoming a national security issue. The United States needs to do much more to ensure that global water access is protected and expanded.”
“As a fiscal conservative, I realize the urgent need to dramatically reduce federal spending and be more efficient with our resources – especially as it relates to our limited foreign aid budget. That means better focusing, targeting and coordinating our efforts to achieve results without authorizing more funding, which is exactly what the Water for the World Act does,” Senator Corker said. “A lack of clean water leads to the deaths of 1.8 million people a year – 90 percent of them children. It stifles economic growth, keeps women and girls from going to work and school, and contributes to political unrest that threatens our national security. For many reasons, I believe water is one of the wisest places we can focus our foreign aid.”
Almost one billion people currently lack access to safe water, and 2.6 billion people lack a way to dispose of their human waste safely. More than two dozen resulting diseases – including cholera – trigger the world’s most serious, and most solvable, public health problems. These diseases kill more children than AIDS, malaria and TB combined. Development experts point out that safe water and sanitation contribute markedly both to global health initiatives and to efforts to keep children in school, alleviate poverty, and empower women. Women and children, as the primary water-haulers across the developing world, bear the brunt of this crisis.
The bill would also strengthen the capacity of USAID – with its newly appointed Global Water Coordinator Christian Holmes – and the U.S. Department of State to ramp up U.S. developmental and diplomatic leadership, while further catalyzing initiatives by American citizens to provide safe, affordable and sustainable drinking water and basic sanitation. The bill builds on the landmark Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act of 2005, which at long last made safe drinking water and sanitation a priority of U.S. foreign development assistance. The bill is nearly identical to a bill that passed the Senate by unanimous consent last year.
About the WASH Advocacy Initiative:
The WASH Advocacy Initiative (WAI) is a nonprofit advocacy effort in Washington DC entirely dedicated to helping solve the global safe drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) challenge. Our mission is to increase awareness of the global WASH challenge and solutions, and to increase the amount and effectiveness of resources devoted to solving the problem around the developing world. WAI is supported by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, the Wallace Genetic Foundation, and four organizations who have detailed staff persons to WAI: Water.org, CARE, Water For People, and Global Water Challenge.