Water

FY2017 Funding Recommendation:  
$425 million

 

Funding History

       Enacted   

       President's FY2017 Request   

       InterAction's FY2017 Recommendation


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Justification

 Key Facts

  • In children under five years of age, 361,000 deaths per year (or over 1000 child deaths per day) could be prevented through better water, sanitation and hygiene.

  • Global economic losses associated with inadequate water supply and sanitation are estimated at $260 billion a year.

  • For every $1 invested in water and sanitation, approximately $4 is returned through decreased health care costs and increased economic productivity.

U.S. funding for safe drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) provides WASH to millions and helps to reduce water- and sanitation-related morbidity and mortality across Africa, Asia, and Latin America. WASH programs also contribute heavily to sustainable progress across many development sectors: global health, education, food security, agriculture, nutrition, child survival, women’s empowerment, environmental conservation, and poverty alleviation. However, 663 million people still lack access to safe drinking water and 2.4 billion lack access to basic sanitation. Additionally, in low- and middle-income countries 38% of health care facilities lack an improved water source, 19% do not have sanitation, and 35% do not have water and soap for handwashing.

The U.S. Congress and both the Bush and Obama Administrations have recognized the substantial progress made on water and sanitation since President George W. Bush signed the Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act into law in 2005. USAID’s first Water and Development Strategy, annual WASH appropriations by Congress, increasing USAID mission-level interest and support for WASH, and the Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act of 2014 (amending and updating the Water for the Poor Act) have all contributed toward more sustainable WASH programming and  private-public sector partnerships.

Thanks to USAID assistance since 2005, approximately 34.5 million people gained access to safer drinking water, and 13.3 million people gained access to improved sanitation. Investment in WASH also improves global economic stability and helps prevent threats identified in the 2012 Intelligence Community Assessment on Global Water Security, which noted that “water problems will contribute to instability in states important to U.S. national security interests.” It also highlighted the importance of U.S. leadership in moving developing countries toward sound water management policies at the local, national, and regional levels.

An FY2017 appropriation of $425 million for water, sanitation, and hygiene could:

  • Provide long-term, safe drinking WASH services to an additional 250,000 people in Africa, Asia, and Latin America;

  • Increase foreign aid effectiveness by equipping people in developing countries with the tools and capabilities to solve their own water, sanitation and health challenges on an ongoing basis; and

  • Create progress toward universal coverage by providing WASH to often-overlooked health care facilities and schools.

Additionally, contributions from NGOs, faith-based organizations, and corporations multiply and amplify the impact of these funds.

Success Story

Building Demand for Sanitation Marketing

Most rural villagers in Ghana’s Upper West region had never considered installing a toilet. Many people say they did not even know about toilets until CARE began the USAID-funded West Africa Water Supply, Sanitation & Hygiene (WA-WASH) three years ago. While Ghana struggles with meeting sanitation targets, the 22 WA-WASH villages have made important gains: a pit latrine at every household and families ending open defecation. Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) and sanitation marketing, together, have helped households quickly move up the sanitation ladder.

“Proper sanitation is a foundation for better health and a cleaner environment,” says Peter Yabepone, WA-WASH community mobilization officer. “It involves helping village chiefs and people realize a deep disgust for open defecation, the benefits of a pit latrine, and then connecting them to products and services. The reasons for building a toilet have to far outweigh the alternative. It has to be their choice.”

Getting a household to build a pit latrine for the first time can be complicated. The CLTS approach is used upfront to trigger a community’s desire to change sanitation behaviors. Community members then decide to create a cleaner, healthier environment. After a family commits to stop open defecation, they still face constraints. Ghana’s “no subsidy” sanitation policy means organizations like CARE cannot provide materials or build the latrines. So, how can a poor family afford the cost? Or build something they have never seen?

In response, WA-WASH organized 147 village savings and loan associations (VSLAs). Members collectively save small amounts each week, and use credit to improve their crop production, for example, so they can sell the surplus for profit. Typically, within a few months, families save enough to pay for a latrine and cover other expenses like school fees and health care. Nearly every household now has a VLSA participant.

CARE also began training volunteer artisans in each village to build and repair latrines, teaching them to make different designs and how to prevent pit cave-ins. CARE then opened the district’s first-ever sanitation market where community members learn about their sanitation options, selecting products that fit their budgets.

Dery Noureru is the volunteer latrine artisan in the 44-household village of Tabier. Until last year, no one had a latrine. But with Dery’s help, latrines were built one by one. Everyone rallied and within three months, every household had a latrine. “We’re now able to grow vegetables around houses, because there’s no feces there,” he says. “Women used to walk in the rain and squat near snakes. Now they are safe.”

His wife, Beborb, couldn’t agree more. “I was so excited the first time I used my own latrine,” she says. “If no one had knocked on the door, I would have stayed in longer!”

The WA-WASH target is for every participating village to be certified as “Open Defecation Free.” On August 20, 2015, Tabier and 23 other communities received that honor.

Times have changed, says Tabier village chief, Saabom Sebastanin. “Before, it was hard to mobilize the community to do anything,” he says. “Now, we are implementing our own community action plan. Today, our village is clean and united.”

Photo: Josh Estey

 

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