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WaterAid calls for improved finance commitments

A new report seeks increased focus on water and toilets in 45 high-priority areas.
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Jul 9, 2015

As top US officials travel to Addis Ababa for negotiations that will change the shape of development financing for years to come, a new WaterAid report, Essential element, identifies 45 high-priority countries that will not reach everyone with clean water, toilets and hygiene without targeted aid and strong political leadership.

Many of the countries highlighted are post-conflict and/or fragile states. In every case, half or more of the population does not have a safe, clean place to go to the bathroom. These issues must be addressed at next week’s finance negotiations.

The high-level US delegation to the Third International Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia July 13 – 16 will be led by Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew and is expected to include Tony Pipa (Department of State), John Hurley (Department of the Treasury) and other senior US Government officials from the US Agency for International Development and across the Administration.

The high-level negotiations will determine how countries from around the world will finance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), an ambitious framework for eradicating extreme poverty and creating a more sustainable world that is scheduled to be finalized by the UN in New York this September. WaterAid is calling upon the US to prioritize programs for clean water, toilets and hygiene in overseas aid and other financing commitments so that no one is left behind.

Access to water, sanitation and hygiene will play a key role in the Sustainable Development Goals. Some 650 million people around the world are still without access to clean water and more than 2.3 billion people remain without a basic toilet, creating a health crisis which kills 500,000 children under five each year and is estimated to cost the global economy $220 billion each year.

Hygiene, one of the most cost-effective health interventions available, remains woefully underfunded and unmeasured. The number of people who do not wash their hands with soap is suspected to be well over 50% in most parts of the developing world.

The United States Government has long been a leader in water, sanitation and hygiene assistance. With the new opportunity of the SDGs, it is a critical time for the US to increase its role in supporting countries around the world as they strive to meet the basic needs of each and every one of their residents.

At next week’s conference, the US delegation must commit to prioritize financing that will help people living in extreme poverty gain access to water and sanitation services, and support countries in building domestic resources to fund these areas for the long term. Unless Congress increases funding for water, sanitation, hygiene and development initiatives more broadly, the US Agency for International Development will not be able to deliver the services needed to improve long-term health and nutrition outcomes for the world’s poorest people.