Water for the World

By Joanne L. Angbazo – Environmental Justice Intern
February 15, 2012

How is it that water is the most vital and the most abundant substance on earth, yet more than three times more people lack water than the number of people that live in the United States (water.org)? That is nearly one billion people without clean water! Because of this, Congress implemented the Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act of 2005 in order to increase affordable and equitable access to safe water and sanitation in developing countries.

It has been seven years since the law was enacted and, as to be expected from any new program, improvements are necessary. Members of the Senate and the House of Representatives have developed an updated version, namely the Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act (S. 641 and H.R. 3658). Although there are two separate versions of the bill, both propose the legislation ensures that the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Department of State maximizes resources, enhances transparency and accountability, and strengthens public-private partnership and research. It also seeks to enhance America’s leadership in mitigating water conflicts and in strategically engaging the efforts and donations of other governments, international organizations, and US based charities.

Columban missionaries serve in some of the neediest places in the world that are covered by the Water for the World Act. In the Philippines, for example, about one-fifth lack access to improved water supply and one-fourth lacks adequate water sanitation (Water for the Poor Act, FY2010 Report to Congress). Passing a bill like this will allow our government greater access to continue to work in the Philippines.

ACTION ALERT! Take part in supporting this bill by contacting your Members of Congress. Write a letter to your Senators and Representative urging them to cosponsor and endorse the bill’s passage.