Sep 24, 2010

Senate Passes Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act

Act will help to provide water and sanitation access to 100 million people

Water Advocates hailed the Senate’s passage of the landmark Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act, which will help provide sustainable access to clean drinking water and adequate sanitation to 100 million of the world’s poorest people. The Water for the World Act, introduced by Assistant Senate Majority Leader Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), passed by unanimous consent and was sent to the House of Representatives.

“With nearly one billion people lacking sustainable access to safe drinking water and 2.6 billion lacking adequate sanitation, the Water for the World Act significantly strengthens the U.S. government’s response to the world’s most pressing public health issue,” said Water Advocates’ President, David Douglas. “This important legislation complements the efforts of U.S. nonprofit development organizations, philanthropies, corporations, faith communities and civic groups, and could profoundly improve millions of lives.”

The Senate passage of the bill comes at a time when there is a redoubling of efforts tied to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for water and sanitation at the MDG Summit in New York City this week. Africa’s first female head of state, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, along with other world leaders, has made a plea for governments to finally tackle the global health crisis caused by unsafe water and inadequate sanitation.

The Water for the World Act represents a model for modernizing foreign assistance by demanding investments that are cost-effective, sustainable and pro-poor, utilizing an integrated approach while leveraging private citizen resources and requiring transparency.

“Sens. Durbin and Corker have shown that bipartisan leadership is still possible, and the Senate as a whole has demonstrated that a strong consensus can form behind good policy,” said Douglas. “Now it is up to the House of Representatives to finish the job and send this bill to the president.”

A similar bill was introduced in the House of Representatives by Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Donald Payne (D-N.J.).

The Water for the World Act builds on the Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act of 2005, which made access to safe water and sanitation for developing countries a major objective of U.S. foreign assistance. Both acts were named after the late Sen. Paul Simon, whose book, Tapped Out, called attention to the world’s worsening water crisis.