On December 19, 2014 The White House announced today that President Obama signed HR 2901, The Sen. Paul Simon Water for the World Act, into law.
WFSS President Glenn Balch applauded the move, saying, "The importance of WASH programs cannot be overstated. We thank all who helped pass this important legislation."
Deputy Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL), longtime champion for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) issues, led the effort to get the bill to the Senate floor. "Inadequate access to safe water and sanitation services sickens and kills thousands of children every day, and leads to poverty across the globe," Durbin said.
The bill accomplishes the following:
- Codifies the existing two positions (one at State, one at USAID) to make sure water issues are coordinated in the agencies among bureaus and missions, and that WASH does not get lost in the design and execution of programs – this is important!
- Sets more criteria (but not too restrictive) for the way USAID prioritizes, and reports on, WASH activity in countries – using JMP and similar data, assuring that most assistance goes to communities and countries in greatest need, not just a small number of politically important countries; this prioritization policy is critical, and strongly supported by our Congressional cosponsors in both parties.
- Sets deadlines for written comprehensive water strategies is for both USAID and State. Eight years after the 2005 Sen. Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act (current law, PL 109-121), USAID produced a strategy for its water programs, covering 2014-2019. The State Department has not done one. The bill outlines the coordination on strategy by the two agencies and requires them to get on task for the future.