FY2018 Funding Recommendation:  
$425 million


Funding History


       House/Senate FY2017 Request   

       InterAction's FY2018 Recommendation

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 Key Facts

  • Around 315,000 children under the age of 5 die every year from diarrheal diseases caused by dirty water and poor sanitation. That's almost 900 children each day, or one child every two minutes.

  • 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 healthcare costs and increased economic productivity, such as market contributions and improved employment and income generation.

U.S. funding for development and humanitarian programs centered on safe drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) provides vital services to millions and helps to reduce water and sanitation related morbidity rates across Africa, Asia, and Latin America. These WASH programs integrate with and contribute to other development sectors such as 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 accesses to basic sanitation. 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. Individual access to these services is even worse. However, USAID has provided WASH assistance since 2005, helping approximately 34.5 million people gain access to safer drinking water, and 13.3 million people gain access to improved sanitation.

U.S. activities in the WASH sector have helped to develop stronger public-private partnerships and work toward financial sustainability in developing countries; Congress has recognized the substantial progress made on water and sanitation. During President George W. Bush’s administration, U.S. Congress signed the Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act into law in 2005. This effectively prioritized the United State’s role in improving sustainable global development via assistance for WASH. Under the law, USAID was able to implement strong WASH programs that helped communities worldwide reduce the prevalence of illness and disease and help provide safety and dignity for young girls experiencing menstruation. WASH services were critical to ending the Ebola outbreak in 2015.

The Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act of 2014 was passed to make investments more effective and ensure that the poorest communities received assistance.

Investment in WASH improves global economic stability and helps prevent threats. The 2012 Intelligence Community Assessment on Global Water Security noted “as water shortages become more acute beyond the next 10 years, water in shared basins will increasingly be used as leverage; the use of water as a weapon or to further terrorist objectives also will become more likely beyond 10 years.” The report highlighted that “water problems will contribute to instability in states important to U.S. national security interests” and how U.S. leadership is vital for developing countries to move toward sound water management policies at the local, national, and regional levels.

Benefits of an FY2018 appropriation of $425 million for water, sanitation, and hygiene would:

  • Provide cost-effective and reliable WASH services to an additional 250,000 people in Africa, Asia, and Latin America;
  • Increase foreign aid effectiveness and sustainability by equipping people in developing countries with the tools and capabilities to solve their own water, sanitation and health challenges on an ongoing basis;
  • Create progress toward universal access by providing WASH to underserved health care facilities and schools; and
  • Ensure sustainable access to WASH infrastructure through community-based maintenance mechanisms, including partnerships with local community and government organizations, and increasing knowledge base of hygiene and sanitation best practices.

Contributions from NGOs, faith-based organizations, and corporations multiply and amplify, but do not replace, the impact of these funds.

Success Story

Transition to Solar Increases Impact of Water and Sanitation Program

The Kenya Resilient Arid Lands Partnership for Integrated Development (Kenya RAPID) is a $35 million, five-year public-private effort spearheaded by the US-based Millennium Water Alliance (MWA) with major funding from its member organizations, USAID, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, and other Kenyan and international partners. Like more and more USAID partnerships, Kenya RAPID looks at the big picture and engages multiple sectors to build real sustainable and impact, improving access to safe drinking water and sanitation for people, water for livestock, and rebuilding a healthy rangeland-management ecosystem. 

USAID funding of $12.5 million leveraged the participation of 15 companies, non-governmental organizations, and government agencies targeting the arid lands of northern Kenya. Based on the previous program by USAID and MWA in 2013-2015, this new expanded partnership breaks with traditional models of water service provision and moves to innovative technologies, such as the transition from use of diesel generators (costlier over time) to sustainable, renewable energy sources.

In these dry regions, there are very few above-ground water sources, so the only option for bringing safe drinking water to these far-flung desert communities is by drilling deep wells, which require more power.  The high cost of diesel means that many communities are must either rely on the county government to provide diesel to the community (in case they cannot pay), spend significant portions of their budgets to purchase enough diesel to run the pumps long enough to adequately supply their community with water (and no longer than that), or to leave the pumps off and return to walking to collect water from unsafe sources.

Kenya RAPID has partnered with the private sector to equip boreholes with pumps powered by solar energy, of which there is plenty to harness in these dry and sunny areas. The solar pumps power the drawing of water from the borehole during the daylight hours at zero operating cost to the community.  Since there is no routine additional cost associated with pumping water, committees report major quality of life changes very quickly after installation – setting in motion other positive impacts, including:

  • The community can now pump enough water to provide a reliable source for people and animals from neighboring communities.
  • Excess water is now used to irrigate community gardens, allowing for increased consumption of vegetables in areas where agricultural activities were previously impossible.
  • Water committees tasked with managing the pumps are generating and saving income by charging users for their consumption. For the first time these funds are being saved for future investments in improving the community. Communities have expressed desires to use the funds to build or expand their schools, or open additional water kiosks.

The transition from diesel gas to solar energy clearly has many benefits beyond the obvious improvement in environmental practices. MWA hopes that the demonstrated success of the installation of solar pumps in Kenya RAPID serves as a model for future water and sanitation programs in comparable environments, both in Kenya and beyond.

The program is managed by the Millennium Water Alliance and implemented through the Kenya country offices of four MWA members headquartered in the US: CARE, Food for the Hungry, World Vision, and Catholic Relief Services.

Photo: MWA

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