Water Is Just the Beginning; Toilets Are Not Just the End

Written by

Robyn Fischer
Robyn Fischer Robyn Fischer serves as the Policy & Advocacy officer at WaterAid America, working to ensure that the poorest communities in the developing world have access to safe drinking water, proper sanitation infrastructure, and hygiene programs. Prior to joining WaterAid in 2014, Robyn advocated for clean water at the National Wildlife Federation and the Natural Resources Defense Council. She has also worked on water and power issues with the U.S. House of Representatives. Robyn holds a degree in Environmental Studies with an emphasis in freshwater policy from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She was born and raised in California and is currently based in Washington, DC.

Why is it that many children in the developed world don’t get sick from drinking water? Is there something in the water? Or is it actually what’s not in the water?

In the poorest regions of the world, children don’t have access to safe drinking water. Instead, they are forced to drink contaminated, dirty water that is miles away from their homes. These children also become extremely sick because many of them don’t have even the most basic toilets and sanitation infrastructure in the communities where they live.

The result? Millions of people are left with no choice but to go to the bathroom outdoors where they can. Open defecation contaminates living areas and water sources with human waste and other harmful bacteria. As a result, children are highly susceptible to potentially life-threatening illnesses like diarrhea and intestinal worms. In fact, the World Health Organization found that over 1,400 children die every day from diarrhea linked to dirty drinking water and poor sanitation. Think about it: more kids die every single day than the entire student population of most city high schools.

748 million people still do not have access to safe water, and 2.5 billion people do not have proper sanitation – that is over one third of the world’s population! To safeguard public health, communities must have access to what we like to call “WASH“: safe and clean water, basic toilets, sanitation infrastructure, and hygiene education programs.

Water for the World Act of 2013: Everyone, Everywhere Deserves Drinking Water and a Toilet
Less than one percent of the funds for international assistance is used for water and sanitation. Allow me to repeat that: less than one percent of the all the money the United States provides to developing countries goes toward water and toilets.

The US taxpayer dollars that are used for international development are already very limited—only $50 billion which pales in comparison to the $496 billion for the Department of Defense! That’s why we need to make sure that the money is efficiently allocated to the right places in order to help the people most in need. The Water for the World Act of 2013 introduced by Representative Ted Poe (R-TX-02) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-03) will do just that.

The Water for the World Act of 2013 will ensure that WASH projects are sustainable and long lasting. It will also make sure that they are put into action in the poorest regions of the world. And it will increase federal agency transparency, and monitoring and evaluation so as to improve the way projects are developed and implemented. Water for the World takes existing taxpayer dollars and makes sure that the money going to water and sanitation projects abroad is used ever-more responsibly and efficiently.

Take Action
NOW is the time to have your voice heard. Protect children’s health and well-being! Stand up for people in need: for those in the developing world who do not have safe drinking water and toilets like we do.  Contact your member of Congress TODAY and tell him/her to SUPPORT Water for the World!

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