24 May 2013

USAID Finally has a Water and Development Strategy

After fifty years in the game, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) unveiled its first ever water and development strategy.

Some say it’s about time.

“For many years in development work, water, sanitation and hygiene have been a bit forgotten,” said Alanna Imbach, media officer with WaterAid America, to the Inter Press Service. ”Instead, significant focus has been placed on education, maternal health and nutrition, overlooking the fact that water and sanitation are foundational building blocks for all of those other elements.”

Though the announcement is appreciated by other NGO leaders, like Water for People CEO Ned Breslin.

“What’s great about this strategy is that it opens up space for creative programming in water development,” said Breslin to IPS. “It’s a huge step forward.”

The five-year water and development strategy is a sign from USAID that it sees water and sanitation as cross-cutting development issues. It is estimated that more than one in ten people (780 million) lack access to safe drinking water. On top of that 2.5 billion people lack access to sanitation.

“This new U.S. Water and Development Strategy will help lift poor people around the world out of conflict and poverty. It is smart, strategic and builds on our past successes using new breakthroughs in science and technology,” said Senator Dick Durbin who joined other members of congress and USAID Administrator Raj Shah for the release.

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