Tuesday, August 17, 2010
The U.S. Department of State recently released the fifth annual Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor 2010 Report describing U.S. efforts to expand access to safe drinking water and sanitation, improve water resources management and increase water productivity in developing countries. The following is taken from a U.S. State Department Press Release:
"The Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act of 2005 requires the Secretary of State, in consultation with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator, to submit an annual report to Congress outlining the U.S. Government’s strategy and progress in achieving the objectives of the Act. "Key Results: In FY 2009, the United States (primarily through USAID and the Millennium Challenge Corporation) invested about $774 million for all water sector and sanitation-related activities in 62 developing countries. Of that amount, USAID invested more than $481 million in drinking water and sanitation-related activities. As a result of USAID investments, some 5.7 million people received improved access to safe drinking water and 1.3 million received improved access to sanitation during FY 2009. Other U.S. Government agencies made unique contributions to water and sanitation that greatly magnify our overall effectiveness. In many cases these agencies made both programmatic and non-financial contributions. From 2005 to 2009, the United States invested more than $3.4 billion for all water sector and sanitation related activities."
The World Health Organization estimates that approximately 2.6 billion people lack an adequate latrine and approximately 1.1 billion people have no access to any type of improved source for drinking water. According to WHO, the direct consequences of this lack of access include:
- 1.6 million people die every year from diarrhoeal diseases (including cholera) attributable to lack of access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation and 90% of these are children under 5, mostly in developing countries;
- 160 million people are infected with schistosomiasis causing tens of thousands of deaths yearly; 500 million people are at risk of trachoma from which 146 million are threatened by blindness and 6 million are visually impaired;
- intestinal helminths (ascariasis, trichuriasis and hookworm infection) are plaguing the developing world due to inadequate drinking water, sanitation and hygiene with 133 million suffering from high intensity intestinal helminths infections; there are around 1.5 million cases of clinical hepatitis A every year.
United Nations Millennium Development Goal 7 aims at halving the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015. Between 1990 when the Millennium Development Goals were adopted and 2002, the number of persons who have access to safe drinking water has increased from 77% of the world's population to 83%. But to meet Millennium Development Goal 7, the number must be increased by another 5% to 88.5%. The U.S. efforts outlined in the Report above are certainly to be lauded, but much more remains to be done. For more information, visit the WHO website.