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The Water for the Poor Act

Made safe water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) an objective of US foreign assistance

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Passed in 2005, the Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act (WPA) made the provision of safe water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) an objective of US foreign assistance.

What the Water for the Poor Act does

  • Increase targeting of WASH resources to the pooret countries and those communities most in need
  • Increase US government capacity to implement WASH programs, and to
  • Leverage partnerships to make US investments and technical support more effective and efficient
  • Require a comprehensive US Government strategy for addressing some of the most critical challenges to poor people worldwide

Each year, the US Department of State and US Agency for International Development (USAID) publish reports on implementation of the Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-211). In addition to highlighting the many successes and sharing stories of coordination and impact on individual lives, the reports also indicate the amount of funds spent in each of the countries that receive US government assistance for WASH.

Our approach

In the end, it shows a mixed bag: millions of people helped, and many ways to do even more. A critical element of WaterAid’s policy and advocacy program is to monitor the activities of donor governments and influence them to ensure they are spending money wisely and having the greatest impact possible. In order to influence US implementation of the Water for the Poor Act, WaterAid has joined with partners to issue an annual report each year since 2008. Our major concerns have remained constant since then, though there are always improvements and new lessons learned, in addition to changing political contexts and priorities in the countries receiving support. Learn more about the Water for the World Act.

Additional resources

US Implementation of the Water for the Poor Act: Tracking Insufficient Progress on Clean Water and Sanitation 
WaterAid, CARE and the Natural Resources Defense Council's joint response to the Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act (P.L. 109-211) Report to Congress 2011 called for urgent action to implement the law and improve the capacity and strategic approach taken from USAID headquarters to country-level missions.

US Implementation of the Water for the Poor Act: Small Steps for a Crisis that Calls for Great Strides 
WaterAid, CARE, the Natural Resources Defense Council and 11 other organizations produced a joint response to the Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act (PL 109-211) Report to Congress 2010, calling for improvements to US efforts to tackle global sanitation crises.

Time for Bold US Action on Drinking Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for the Poor  
WaterAid America, CARE and the Natural Resources Defense Council produced a joint response to the Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act (PL 109-211) Report to Congress 2009, calling for bold US action on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene for the poor.

Is the US Government getting water to the poor?
WaterAid America and the Natural Resources Defense Council produced a joint response to the 2008 US State Department Report to Congress (“Report”) on the Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act (PL 109-121), highlighting concerns regarding the limited transparency of data, failure to target resources to areas of “greatest need,” and the lack of a complete strategic framework to guide US support to this important area.