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Sheila J.
Democrat TX 18

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  • In Support of H.R. 2901 ``Sen. Paul Simon Water for the World Act’‘

    by Representative Sheila Jackson Lee

    Posted on 2014-12-11

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    JACKSON LEE of texas in the house of representatives Thursday, December 11, 2014 Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H.R. 2901, the Paul Simon Water for the World Act of 2014, which makes the provision of safe water and sanitation a stated goal of U.S. foreign assistance policy and requires the President, through the State Department, to develop and implement a strategy to further such efforts in developing countries.

    Safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene are among the most basic needs a person can have, yet 748 million people in the world do not have access to safe water; roughly 1/10 of the world's population.

    In countries such as Ethiopia, Madagascar, Mozambique, Niger and Papua New Guinea, less than 50% of the population has access to safe water.

    More than 2.5 billion people in the world lack access to adequate sanitation, which is approximately 35 percent of the global population.

    The lack of clean water and basic sanitation facilities leaves millions trapped in a cycle of poverty and disease, costing the lives of around 500,000 children per year--dying from diarrhea caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation.

    The Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act will make better use of existing WASH (``Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene'') funds, strengthen accountability for WASH programs already underway, and ensure the greatest impact on communities worldwide without spending new money or creating new bureaucracy.

    For every $1 invested in WASH, $4 is returned in increased economic productivity, making WASH one of the most effective and efficient choices we can make for global child health, nutrition, resource conservation, women's empowerment and education.

    Specifically, H.R. 2901, the Water for the World Act, will: 1. Institutionalize existing capacity in the U.S. government to ensure WASH remains a political priority and expertise is available at USAID and State Department headquarters to guide strategic implementation of effective and sustainable WASH programs 2. Enhance criteria for choosing high-priority countries to ensure that limited funds are directed to the countries and communities most in need 3. Advance best practices of effective aid, such as improved monitoring and evaluation and a focus on leveraging non-Federal partnerships and funds 4. Improve the strategic approach to international safe water, sanitation, hygiene, and water resources management by providing smart guidance that builds off USAID's own strategy The bill before us today also provides for a Global Water Coordinator to be designated to oversee water, sanitation, and hygiene assistance, and to develop a complementary strategy to further the U.S. foreign assistance objective to provide affordable and equitable drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene in developing countries.

    Mr. Speaker, H.R. 2901 will provide effective, long-term, sustainable impacts by improving coordination and oversight of safe water, sanitation, and hygiene projects and activities.

    By voting in support of this act, we have the power to improve the well-being, education, economic opportunity, safety and dignity of the 2.5 billion people in the world who live without a basic latrine every day.

    I strongly encourage my colleagues to join me in supporting the passage of the Water for the World Act to save lives, reduce poverty, and help drive economic growth by bringing safe drinking water and improved sanitation and hygiene to those most in need.

    Mr. Speaker, access to clean, potable water will be one of the world's most pressing problems over the next century and further contribute to instability within and between nations as is the case in the Darfur conflict.

    In the developing world, water-related diseases kill 5,000 children every day.

    Sick children miss nearly 300 million school days a year from water- related causes, and an estimated 320 million productive work days are lost to illness--with much of the burden carried by girls and women.

    Mr. Speaker, I agree with Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois, Senator Paul Simon's successor and the lead Democratic sponsor of the Senate companion to H.R. 2901, that: Water access is no longer simply a global health and development issue; it is a mortal and long-term threat that is increasingly becoming a national security issue. The United States needs to do much more to ensure that global water access is protected and expanded.

    Passing H.R. 2901 is an essential first step in ensuring that global water access is protected and expanded.

    I urge all members to join me in supporting this important legislation and fitting memorial to the late great Senator from Illinois, Senator Paul Simon.

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