Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Alive and Healthy at Age Five and Far Beyond

Thanks to the efforts of the U.S. Congress and its partners around the world on water, sanitation, and many other important development objectives, several million more children survive and thrive far beyond their fifth birthdays every year than would otherwise be the case.

John Oldfield, happy to be alive and thriving at age five!

At a series of events in Washington DC this week, the powerful 5th Birthday and Beyond coalition will thank Congress for its leadership on efforts to “stop the deaths of millions of children from preventable disease and help them thrive.” As a reinforcement of the message, the coalition is cleverly posting photographs of many of today’s public and private sector leaders when they were five years old (they were all pretty photogenic back then – Colin Powell, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, and many others - Bill Gates in particular!).

We at WASH Advocates are proud and humbled to play a small role as a Coalition Partner in this much-bigger effort, and are grateful for the contributions that the U.S. government and the global WASH sector have made in helping these millions of children survive and thrive.

The result of a successful water or sanitation project isn’t simply a borewell, or a rainwater harvesting system, or even an improved latrine. The real result of a sustainable water and sanitation project is a classroom full of healthy children - both boys and girls - in Asia. Or an HIV+ person who has safe drinking water with which to consume his ARVs in southern Africa. Or a young girl in Central America who has fewer cases of waterborne diarrhea and whose body can thus absorb the nutrients it needs to grow.
A "before and after" picture of a successful WASH in Schools program!

In 2011 and 2012, USAID provided almost 7 million people with improved access to drinking water supply, and almost 3 million with improved access to sanitation. This work is now supported and reinforced by USAID’s first-ever Water and Development Strategy, launched in May 2013. U.S. federal leadership has also spurred civic groups (Rotary International), faith communities, foundations (WASHfunders.org), universities, American schoolkids, corporations, nonprofits, and others to substantially increase their own efforts to provide safe drinking water and sanitation, resulting in many more children’s lives saved and improved.

So “Thank You!” America. As former Senators Tom Daschle and Bill Frist wrote this morning, ‘bipartisanship saves lives.’  The U.S. Congress merits our praise for its share of these successes, and should continue to accelerate such progress until we get to ZERO preventable child deaths across the globe.