Welcome Back Congress, Can I Get You a Glass of Safe Water?
Robyn FischerRobyn 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.
The second week of September was “back to school” time for members of Congress. They arrived on the steps of Congress with their new backpacks, sack lunches, and a slew of legislation to get through before the Lame Duck session.
During these final months while some members of Congress get a case of “senioritis” and check out of work like many high school students do as they approach graduation, it is critical that they buckle down, stay focused and address issues that the American people care about. They’ll tend to the budget and deficit, they’ll likely discuss border issues, and terrorism just to name a few. But among the big news headlines, there is one issue that is getting lost in the DC rhetoric: safe water and toilets for people in the poorest regions of the world.
Currently, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs is reviewing the Water for the World Act 2013, a bipartisan bill that will clarify how and where the U.S. government is to allocate funds for water access, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) programs abroad. And all of this is possible without any new taxpayer dollars – Water for the World maximizes the limited funds allocated for international WASH assistance and will ensure that every dollar is invested wisely and efficiently.
Under the leadership of Representatives Ted Poe (R-TX-2) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-3) we have seen that wanting to provide water and toilets to people in need is not a partisan issue. As soon as members of Congress are back Water for the World could move out of the committee and to the House floor for a vote.
Allocating funds for WASH programs is not just about water either. Improving WASH programs will help to reduce poverty by improving livelihoods, allow for children to spend more time in the classroom rather than spending hours fetching water, will provide a safe space for girls and women during menstruation, will protect the water resources around the community from human waste, will limit a child’s exposure to life-threatening disease and infection, and will help quell conflicts over water and bolster national security.
The public has spoken and they feel it’s imperative to help provide access to water for marginalized communities. Time is of the essence and we need your help. Support the Water for the World Act of 2013 and TAKE ACTION TODAY! Let members of Congress know this issue is important to you and remember, that where you live should not dictate whether you live.