April 23, 2012
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has joined an international partnership of governments, donors, civil society organizations and development partners working to achieve sustainable sanitation and drinking water worldwide.
USAID and the U.S. Department of State are committing a total of $1 million to the World Bank’s Water and Sanitation Program. The investment will support the Sanitation and Water for All (SWA)-led National Planning for Results Initiative, which promotes national planning efforts related to sanitation and water. The economic gains from investing in sanitation and water are estimated at $170 billion per year, USAID said.
“The United States government considers sanitation and water and our related partnering activities to be a critical component of our overall international development assistance effort,” USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah said during remarks at the SWA High Level Meeting. “We look forward to maximizing the potential of this partnership, which brings together such a range of tools, experience and approaches. Working together, we can not only reach full coverage, but we can also do it in the most effective, efficient and collaborative way.”
Established in 2010, SWA’s biennial High Level Meeting brings together ministers of finance from developing countries, ministers of development cooperation from donor countries and high-level representatives from development banks and other donor institutions.
In March, the United Nations announced that the Millennium Development Goal for a 50 percent reduction in the number of people living without access to safe drinking water had been achieved in 2010 — five years ahead of schedule. Even with that target met, more than 780 million people — particularly those in fragile states and poor communities — still live without access to safe water, USAID says.
Progress in sanitation has been slower, according to USAID. Today, 2.5 billion people still lack access to improved sanitation, and it is unlikely that the Millennium Development Goal target for sanitation will be met by 2015.