Mar 15, 2007

U.S. Leaders To Speak Out On World Water Day

On March 22nd Water Advocates will assemble key leaders working to prevent sickness and death related to unsafe drinking water in developing countries. Speakers will highlight groundbreaking initiatives that demonstrate how US support for water and sanitation, as well as the call for even greater action, is growing.

Safe drinking water and sanitation are key to global public health, yet across the world 1.1 billion people lack access to safe drinking water, and 2.6 billion, more than one-third of the earth’s population, lack adequate sanitation. Combined, these two problems kill between two and five million people a year (approximately the same number as the population of Los Angeles) and sicken billions more.

Panelists will discuss how individuals from all walks of life are expanding efforts to address this challenge.

"Diseases spawned by unsafe drinking water and inadequate sanitation can be prevented,” said David Douglas, president of Water Advocates. “The world knows how to do it. What is lacking is funding and political will. Clean drinking water and basic sanitation underlie every aspect of development—from good health and education to economic growth and environmental sustainability."

John Oldfield the director of partnership development for Water Advocates, will moderate the panel.

The following speakers will be present:

  • Melanie Nakagawa (Natural Resources Defense Council) will announce NRDC’s Global Safe Water Project focusing on international drinking water and sanitation.
  • Gil Garcetti, photographer, will introduce Water is Key, his book of photographs (underwritten by the Hilton Foundation) documenting water, sanitation and women in West Africa.
  • Ron Denham (Rotary International) will announce the launch of the Water and Sanitation Rotarian Action Group.
  • Tanvi Nagpal (Global Water Challenge) will discuss this newly-launched initiative of the United Nations Foundation.
  • Jim Hughes (Emory University’s Center for Global Safe Water) will address the scale and scope of the global safe drinking water and sanitation challenge.
  • Reverend Al Bailey (New Psalmist Baptist Church) will address the role of his church in tackling this issue on the ground in the developing world.
  • Marty Shupack (Church World Service) will discuss the faith community’s advocacy efforts on behalf of safe drinking water.
  • Mark Winter (Millennium Water Alliance) will discuss this unprecedented collaboration of nonprofit organizations coordinating on-the-ground programs on behalf of water and sanitation.