January 20, 2009
Obama pledges to "let clean waters flow"
Clean, safe water is essential for poverty reduction.
Credit: WaterAid / Marco Betti
As part of his inaugural address today, President Barack Obama
pledged that the USA would "work alongside" the people of poor nations
"to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish
starved bodies and feed hungry minds."
WaterAid America welcomes the mention of clean water in Obama's speech
and stands ready to support the commitment made by the new President in his first day of office.
with other NGOs, WaterAid America has been encouraging the new
administration to recognize the importance of clean water and
sanitation and to take a lead to end the years of political neglect of these vital services.
Now is the time to develop
a credible strategy to improve water and sanitation services in the world's
Laura Hucks, WaterAid America
Alongside other non-profit organizations focused on water and sanitation issues, WaterAid America met with representatives of Obama's transition team last week to put forward calls to the new administration. In particular, WaterAid America would like to see:
- An independent assessment of US Government support to the water and sanitation sector and a clear strategy for the implementation of the objectives of the Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act
- Strengthened US Government agency coordination and increased aid effectiveness
- The US Government taking leadership in the area of water and sanitation
- Increased US Government capacity and operations focused on the world's poorest communities
As the new team takes office, we
will pursue these calls and will work to highlight the importance of increasing resources for sanitation and hygiene alongside clean water provision. Laura Hucks,
Policy Officer at WaterAid America, commented:
more children die from diarrheal diseases than from HIV/AIDS, malaria
and tuberculosis combined. The vast majority of these deaths could be
prevented by investing in safe water supplies, decent toilet facilities
and programs raising awareness of the need to improve hygiene
The neglect of the water and sanitation sector has hampered economic growth as well as costing lives. Hucks continued:
areas without safe water and sanitation, many adults, particularly
women, are kept out of work by water collection or caring for sick
children, while education also suffers. If the new administration is
serious about tackling disease and poverty, now is the time to develop
a credible plan to improve water and sanitation services in the world's