So about that second reason for hope…
I ended my last blog talking about how nutrition, food security, climate change, and health are all linked. Yet running through each of those themes is water….And in that realm, there”s more good news!
Yesterday, the Senate passed the Water for the World Act. This act paves the way for robust implementation of the Water for the Poor Act passed in 2005, including the development of a strategy for delivering water and sanitation services for poor people. MDG 7 includes a target to halve the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation. While we”ve made great progress on this goal, some geographic areas still remain far behind.
What”s more, lack of access to safe water and sanitation is the second leading cause of mortality for children under 5, killing almost 1.9 million children a year. So while we”re embarking on an effort to address undernutrition during the “window of opportunity,’ the “doorway of risk’ looms larger and longer. It isn”t enough to address issues one by one. We have to look holistically at the challenges people in poverty face. This is why the Senate”s passage of the Water for the World Act comes at a great time.
By ensuring increased capacity within the US Agency for International Development and the State Department, the Water for the World Act will enable the US to make the greatest and most strategic contribution possible to ensure access to safe drinking water and sanitation among people in poverty. Increased capacity will enable the US to establish a strategy with goals, benchmarks, timetables and an estimate of the resources required to accomplish those goals.
The legislation also calls for an assessment of the impact of changes in water supply over the next 10, 25, and 50 years. This will ensure that as climate change impacts water availability – whether there”s too much water as flooding increases, or not enough as rainfall patterns shift and droughts drag on – we can plan accordingly and support local communities” efforts to adapt.
Success is not achieved overnight – this we know. However, with each new initiative, each piece of legislation, and each comprehensive strategy, especially when these efforts are linked, we chip away at the scourge of poverty.