The U.S. Department of State, in coordination with partnering U.S. governmental agencies, is actively engaged and has made water a foreign policy priority. Our strategy is founded in the belief that U.S. investments in water and sanitation translate into investments in people, economic sustainability, as well as productive, safe living environments for everyone on the planet.
In FY2008, the United States committed about $1 billion worldwide for water and sanitation related activities in developing countries (excluding Iraq). The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) obligated $390 million and $429 million respectively for water and sanitation-related activities in more than 75 countries. In 2008, funding support to the Sub-Saharan Africa region nearly doubled over 2007 and now represents 43 percent of total USAID support—more than to any other region.
As a result of USAID investments in FY2008, more than 7.7 million people received improved access to safe drinking water, and nearly 6.3 million received improved access to sanitation. Of these, more than 4.6 million received first-time access to an improved drinking water source and more than 2.1 million to improved sanitation. USAID-sponsored activities to improve the quality of water at its point of use resulted in more than 7.4 billion liters of disinfected drinking water.
The United States is one of the largest bilateral donors to water supply and sanitation efforts in developing countries, accounting for ten percent of all official assistance to the water and sanitation sector in 2006–2007 (includes $1.5 billion allocated in 2007 for an Iraq water/sanitation project). The United States is also one of the largest donors to several multilateral development banks (e.g., the World Bank, the African Development Bank, and the Inter-American Development Bank) and intergovernmental organizations (e.g., the UN agencies, the Global Environment Facility), which collectively provided nearly $5 billion for water- and sanitation-related activities in FY2008.
In December 2005, the U.S. Congress passed, and the President signed into law, the Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act. The Act emphasizes the provision of affordable and equitable access to safe drinking water and sanitation in developing countries as a key component of U.S. foreign assistance programs. It requires the Secretary of State, in consultation with USAID and other U.S. Government agencies, to develop and implement a strategy “to provide affordable and equitable access to safe water and sanitation in developing countries” within the context of sound water resources management. It also requires the Secretary of State, in consultation with the USAID Administrator, to submit an annual report to Congress describing changes in the U.S. strategy and progress in achieving the objectives of the Water for the Poor Act.
The Global Water Challenge – Key Facts