WaterAid hails largest ever US commitment to water and toilets

WaterAid praised the new federal spending bill approved by Congress that will give an estimated 3.5 million people access to safe drinking water, and over one million people access to improved toilets and sanitation and sanitation over the course of the coming fiscal year.


17 Jan 2014 | Washington, DC

WaterAid welcomed the $50 million increase in funding for water, sanitation and hygiene services as President Obama is expected to sign into action the much-anticipated Omnibus Appropriations bill, which includes the State and Foreign Operations budget for the Department of State and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

“WaterAid is extremely pleased that Congress has recognized safe, clean water, toilets and simple practices like hand washing as a powerful force for saving lives and combatting poverty,” said WaterAid America CEO, David Winder.

“Smart investment in public health reaps huge dividends for poor communities and American taxpayers alike. The US Government’s bipartisan commitment to programs that support vital maternal and child health programs around the world stands as a reflection of the American people’s dedication to transforming the lives of women and children.”

The fiscal year 2014 Omnibus spending bill marks the largest ever US development assistance commitment to funding water, sanitation and hygiene programs for the world’s poorest people. Up 21 percent as compared to fiscal year 2013, $365 million have been allocated to fund programs that will give more than 3.5 million people access to safe drinking water, and over one million people access to improved toilets and sanitation.

While the bill is being widely celebrated by WaterAid and a diverse range of poverty-focused development organizations, concerns remain around budget lines that received cuts that could prove counterproductive to the effectiveness and long-term sustainability of safe water and sanitation programs: most notably, cuts in overall development assistance, the US Agency for International Development’s operating expenses and US contributions to international organizations.

“International Affairs makes up less than one percent of the entire federal budget, requiring smart, strategic decisions about how and where taxpayer dollars are spent,” commented WaterAid Director of Policy and Advocacy, Lisa Schechtman.

“Investment in foreign aid including water, toilets and hygiene education is a critical foundation for US foreign policy objectives including national security, and is one of the most efficient, cost-effective decisions that Congress can make. WaterAid looks forward to working with Congress and USAID to continue to save lives, promote health and dignity, and reduce poverty worldwide on behalf of the American people.”