Washington, DC – Today, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 2901, the Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act authored by Congressmen Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Ted Poe (R-TX). The Senate is expected to take action quickly on the bill, sending it to the President’s desk.

Once made law, the Water for the World Act will strengthen and refine the implementation of the Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act to ensure that water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programming is not only elevated in a way that helps leverage the impact of other development assistance, but that it is targeted to help the world’s poorest, and is more effective, with long-term, sustainable impacts.

 “It is unacceptable that in the year 2014 there are women who are still forced to walk miles to fetch water from polluted rivers infected with waste, parasites and other insects,” said Poe. “This ought not to be. Water is key to just about every kind of development. If we don’t get water right, it doesn’t matter how many schools we build or vaccines we pass out. I commend my colleagues in the House on both sides of the aisle for passing this bipartisan bill that will make U.S. water aid more efficient and effective. We have it within our power to fix this and make water a priority in any development discussion- like it should be. Today Congress took one step further towards doing so.”

“It’s been almost a decade since we passed the Water for the Poor Act, which has helped millions of people around the world access clean water and sanitation,” said Blumenauer. “Since then, we have worked nonstop in a purely bipartisan fashion to expand and improve international water aid. Working with my friend, Ted Poe, and dedicated advocates, we have shown that politics stops at water and that Congress can come together to pass meaningful, substantive bills when put aside our differences for the good of the country and the world.”

“The global safe drinking water and sanitation challenge is 100% solvable,” said John Oldfield, CEO of WASH Advocates. “This pivotal piece of legislation - passed with strong bipartisan support - ensures that water and sanitation programs will be implemented in a fashion that is increasingly viable in technical and financial terms over the long run. More children will carry schoolbooks instead of water, and more people in Africa, Asia, and Latin America will lead longer, healthier lives.”

"Through our work in poor countries around the world, WaterAid has seen the transformative impact of access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene,” said Lisa Schechtman, director of policy and advocacy for WaterAid.  “These services are basic, lifesaving, efficient and effective. Yet, much more needs to be done to meet the needs of 2.5 billion people living without a decent toilet, and suffering the consequences--from watching children die of preventable diarrhea, to heightened risk of sexual violence. Thanks to the leadership of Congressmen Poe and Blumenauer, the House has taken a huge step in passing Water for the World. We cannot let this momentum go to waste."  

“The Water for the World Act is a critical piece of the poverty puzzle, ensuring that the United States stays focused on helping those who don’t have access to clean water, proper sanitation and hygiene,” said Lisa Bos, senior policy advisor for World Vision.  “World Vision and its advocates, who have been mobilizing in support of H. R. 2901 for the last year and a half, are grateful for the House’s support of this bill and urge swift action in the Senate.”

"Global Citizens have taken tens of thousands of actions over the past year in support of the Water for the World Act. Today we were thrilled to see House leadership hold a vote on the bill and hear Members of Congress to raise their voices in support of increased access to water and sanitation for people around the world,” said Justine Lucas, US Country Director of the Global Poverty Project.

 "We commend Reps. Blumenauer and Poe for their tireless efforts to ensure that U.S. foreign aid programs bring effective water, sanitation and hygiene programming to the poorest individuals around the globe,” said Sam Worthington, President and CEO,  of InterAction.“In an era plagued by seemingly  endless political gridlock, their bipartisan leadership is a reminder that current global challenges can be addressed in a meaningful way. The U.S. Senate now must act quickly and follow suit."

 Currently, nearly 800 million people lack access to clean water.  An astounding 2.5 billion people worldwide live without access to proper sanitation. This adds to the spread of disease, such as Ebola, and death as much as any other factor in the world. Every day, women and girls spend a combined 200 million hours collecting water, keeping them from school, work, and family.

 There are over 260 river basins that cross at least one international border, making the management of this finite resource – without conflict – one of our greatest national security challenges.  We need only look at the very recent history in Syria for proof, where severe droughts played a key role in the initial uprisings. 

###