The U.S. Department of State, in coordination with partnering U.S. governmental agencies, 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 FY2009, the United States committed about $774 million worldwide for water and sanitation related activities in developing countries. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers obligated about $600 million, $121 million, and $54 million respectively for water and sanitation-related activities in 62 countries.
As a result of USAID investments in FY2009, more than 5.8 million people received improved access to safe drinking water and nearly 1.3 million received improved access to sanitation. USAID-sponsored activities to improve the quality of water at its point of use resulted in more than 7.8 billion liters (or 2 billion gallons) of disinfected drinking water.
The United States is 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) which collectively provided more than $ 9.2 billion for water- and sanitation-related activities in 2009. The United States also contributes to 10 international organizations that support water and sanitation projects around the world, as well as water and sanitation services in the context of humanitarian relief. These include, inter alia, the United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization, the UN Development Programme, the UN Environment Programme, the World Health Organization, and the UN Children’s Fund or UNICEF. The U.S. government, through the State Department, is the largest single country bilateral donor to international humanitarian organizations such as the UN High Commission for Refugees and the International Committee of the Red Cross, providing over $1.7 billion in FY 2009 for assistance to refugees, a portion of which was dedicated to water, sanitation and hygiene services.
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. A copy of this year’s report is available at http://www.state.gov/e/oes/water/.