* Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Think Congress these days is nothing but stagnant, gridlocked and whirling politicking?
Good news! In the realm of water politics, our nation’s leaders are trickling if not pouring out progress. That’s because a bill was introduced on the House floor on Aug. 1 that would provide improved water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services to the world’s poorest people without spending any additional money or creating any new bureaucracy.
How is that possible? The Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act – bipartisan legislation introduced by Congressmen Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Ted Poe (R-TX) – seeks to improve the way that U.S. government funding gets used to provide clean water and sanitation access throughout the world
If passed, the legislation will help ensure that United States Agency for International Development water funding is directed to communities with the greatest need, institutionalizes WASH as a political priority and better guarantees the transparency and monitoring and evaluation of funding use and project success.
“The Water for the World Act is a cost-free approach to saving lives,” said Carolyn Crowley Meub, executive director of Pure Water for the World. “Support for this bill is a no-brainer.”
The benefits of this bill are multifaceted as better WASH programming not only improves health but also has positive implications for other development indicators. It reduces health care costs, improves school attendance and increases productivity.
For example, if the 2.5 billion people without access to sanitation today had at least a basic latrine, there would be a return of $220 billion each year to the global economy. And it’s cost-effective: Every $1 invested in WASH programing has a $4 return.
Pure Water is already accomplishing many of the key objectives of this bill. We’re working with countries’ most vulnerable populations, forging partnerships among WASH NGOs, promoting country ownership and ensuring the transparency of our investment decisions and the impact of our programs.
Pure Water encourages all members of the House to join Congressmen Poe and Blumenauer in their efforts to target assistance for safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene on the people who need it most. Without spending more money or creating new red tape, we can save even more lives.
That's good politics.