VEGA Signs NGO Letter Thanking Congressional Leadership for Funding Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Programs
View the full letter and signatories here.
Dear Chairman Graham and Ranking Member Leahy,
As CEOs in the international development and global health communities, we deeply appreciate the recommended allocation of $435 million for international water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programs for Fiscal Year 2019 State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs. We are also grateful for the increase in funds directed to WASH programs in sub-Saharan Africa.
Thanks to your leadership in Congress, thousands of communities may have the potential to improve health outcomes; allow more time for school and work; provide dignity and safety for women and girls; prevent diarrheal diseases that take the lives of millions of children each year; end open defecation, which is still practiced by a billion people worldwide, contaminating water sources; and protect national security and American interests abroad.
Since unanimous passage of the Water for the World Act in 2014, the United States government has made great progress toward reaching poor and vulnerable communities around the world with WASH services.
As a result of USAID WASH programs in FY 2016, more than 3.1 million people received sustainable access to an improved water supply, and more than 3 million people received improved access to sanitation facilities. These results include more than 500,000 women and girls benefiting from improved water services, and more than 1.8 million women and girls gaining access to improved sanitation. The new US Global Water Strategy will improve a whole-of-government approach to US leadership on water security and WASH.
There are still 844 million people who lack access to safe drinking water and 2.3 billion people who lack access to adequate toilets – one-third of the global community. With your continued leadership, those staggering statistics have a greater chance of diminishing in the coming years.
This increased funding for WASH will provide much needed assistance to countries, specifically for countries throughout sub-Saharan Africa, that are facing extreme water insecurity, and health epidemics such as Cholera or Ebola. These funds can help to increase country’s capacity for good governance in the sector and better integration with other areas of development such as nutrition, food security, education, gender equality, biodiversity, and healthcare.
However, in actual USAID programming in the field, we still note a somewhat disproportionate amount going to countries with higher access to WASH services, leaving too little for those with the greatest need. Your specific directive of $195 million for sub-Saharan Africa, the region with the lowest WASH access in the world, will help to prioritize investments in these impoverished and vulnerable regions.
Thank you again for your support of $435 million for WASH and the $195 million allocated specifically to sub-Saharan African WASH projects. We look forward to working with you and your staff as the Fiscal Year 2019 appropriations process proceeds.