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 FY 2009, 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) obligated $598.7 million for water and sanitation-related activities in more than 62 countries, an increase of $109.1 million over FY 2008 funding levels. The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) obligated $121.3 million for all water sector and sanitation-related activities while the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers obligated approximately $54 million for water and sanitation projects in Iraq.
As a result of USAID investments in FY2009, nearly 5.8 million people received improved access to safe drinking water, and more than 1.33 million received improved access to sanitation in at least 57 countries. USAID-sponsored activities to improve the quality of water at its point of use resulted in more than 7.8 billion liters of disinfected drinking water.
Through the State Department, the United States is the largest single bilateral country donor to international humanitarian organizations such as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the UN Relief Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, providing over $1.74 billion in FY 2009 for protection and assistance, including water, sanitation and hygiene-related services. The U.S. 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), which provided $9.22 billion in water sector and sanitation-related financing in FY 2009, more than double FY 2008 spending. The U.S. also provided approximately $41.28 in support of U.N. programmatic work on water through the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the UN Development Programme, UNICEF and others.
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