U.S. Senate-proposed cuts to water, sanitation and hygiene will undermine every dollar invested in development

Posted by
Jeff Greene
on
21 July 2023
In
Individuals, Employees and companies, Global, Campaigns, Fundraising resources, Water, Partnership, Education, Hygiene, Girls and women, Health, Maternal health, Human rights
Village women walk on cracked ground, towards a pond to collect water at Vitaranga, Gunari, Dacope, Khulna, Bangladesh, March 2018.
Image: WaterAid/ Abir Abdullah

July 21, 2023 (New York, NY)— WaterAid America is deeply disappointed with the U.S. Senate State and Foreign Operations funding bill for fiscal year (FY) 2024, which would significantly cut funding to the water and sanitation program at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).  

The bill cuts funding for safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programs by $147.8 million for FY 2024, reducing funding for WASH by over 31%. This cut threatens the progress made in ensuring people have access to WASH and, in turn, threatens the health, livelihoods and stability of communities, especially in sub-Saharan Africa where needs are greatest.  

Water and WASH access are critical for all development outcomes, including agriculture, food and nutrition security, pandemic response and preparedness, maternal and child health, and women’s empowerment. This proposed cut comes despite significant and growing global needs, recognition that WASH access is critical to national security, and surveys showing that Americans believe access to clean drinking water should be a top priority in U.S. foreign policy.  

Access to WASH is fundamental to our everyday lives at home, work and school. We know that for every dollar invested in basic WASH services, up to $21 is generated in return.

WASH access and water management are frontline interventions for today’s greatest challenges, including food insecurity, climate change, energy crises and protecting against disease spread. Funding cuts would jeopardize the success of other development outcomes, and create a cascade of preventable economic risk, instability and human suffering.
Kelly Parsons, CEO of WaterAid America

Since FY 2008, strong bipartisan Congressional support for bilateral WASH has meant that 65 million people have gained access to drinking water services and 51 million people have gained access to sanitation services. Over 50% of that access was gained by women and girls, who most often bear the burden of the water crisis.  

The US House of Representatives provided steady funding of $475 million for water and sanitation at USAID in its FY 2024 funding bill. USAID uses these funds to address the WASH needs of communities, including mothers and children, in an effective and timely manner.  WASH investments strengthen our national security and achieve numerous development priorities, such as ensuring adequate and healthy food supply, healthy moms and newborns, improved nutrition outcomes and prevention of infectious disease outbreaks. 

The cuts proposed by the Senate would quickly and directly impact current planning, global commitments and future programs to address WASH needs of families and communities.  

WaterAid welcomes the bipartisan support from the House of Representatives for bilateral WASH funding and encourages Congress to protect and expand current WASH funding levels in final appropriations conference negotiations. 

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Media Contact: 
Jeff Greene, Communications and Engagement Officer,
WaterAid America
[email protected] 

WaterAid is an international nonprofit working to make clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene a reality for everyone, everywhere within a generation. WaterAid works in more than 30 countries to change the lives of the poorest and most marginalized people. Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 28 million people with clean water, 28 million people with decent toilets and 26 million people with good hygiene.

Statistics

  • 750 million people in the world – one in ten – do not have clean water close to home.
  • Two billion people in the world – almost one in four – do not have a decent toilet of their own.
  • Around 310,000 children under five die every year from diarrheal diseases caused by poor water and sanitation. That's around 800 children a day, or one child every two minutes. 

Every $2 invested in water and toilets returns an average of $8 in increased productivity.

Further resources