What’s Really at Stake: Sequestration’s Impact Worldwide
Lost in the trillion-dollar sequestration debates is the life-and-death impact of these spending cuts in developing countries. Sequestration will cut more than $25 million (8.2%) from safe drinking water and sanitation programs in the world’s poorest countries and communities in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. This would leave 260,000 more people (equal to the population of Lincoln, Nebraska or Plano, Texas) without access to the safe drinking water and sanitation they need to live healthy lives.
The United States government should continue to lead in helping the world’s poorest get access to water and sanitation for years. The U.S. intelligence community recently reinforced this imperative through its Intelligence Community Assessment of Global Water Security.
Why Water and Sanitation Are Important
Around the world today, 780 million people lack access to safe drinking water and 2.5 billion people lack even basic sanitation. Safe drinking water and sanitation for all will save millions of children’s lives and prevent 9% of the global disease burden. Safe drinking water and sanitation also reinforce sustainable progress toward virtually every other developmental challenge including education, economic growth, nutrition, environmental health and gender equality.
Why U.S. Funding is Vital
Congress has increased funding for the Water for the Poor Act since 2008 to its current level of $315 million. In 2011 alone USAID provided almost four million people with improved access to drinking water supply and 1.9 million people with improved access to sanitation facilities. Programs implemented by USAID and its partners provide safe drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH), and strengthen the capacity of developing country governments to solve their own water and sanitation challenges. This will create lasting, sustainable change and lead toward aid independence. The World Health Organization estimates that every $1 of funding for water and sanitation programs brings a return of $4 in increased productivity and decreased health care costs.