Water. It’s something I take for granted in my daily life, from my shower every morning to my ever-present bottle that I drink and refill throughout the day. But it’s not something that the 844 million people do not have access to clean water can take for granted. That’s why I’m so excited to support the Water for the World Act.
A full 2.5 billion people don’t have access to adequate sanitation. And that lack of sanitation means disease is spread rapidly; for example, 4,100 children die each day from severe diarrhea — preventable if they had the ability to practice proper hygiene.
Hardest hit are the women and girls in these impoverished villages. In developing countries, they walk an average of 3.5 miles every day to collect water for their families. And that’s time the girls are not spending in school. Studies show that if water is available within a 15 minute walk instead of a one hour walk, girls are 12 percent more likely to go to school.
With global warming, industrialization and our booming world population, the water crisis is only going to get worse. But fortunately, we already have the tools to make it better.
The Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act of 2005 provided more than 2 million people with improved access to drinking water last year. The act, named after the late Paul Simon, who warned of a looming water crisis in his book Tapped Out 10 years ago, also improved sanitation for more than 1.5 million people. It’s time to broaden it.
Senators Durbin and Corker recently introduced S. 624, The Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act of 2009, a bipartisan bill to make clean water a reality for 100 million people by 2015.
A press release on Senator Durbin’s website sets out just how it would achieve this goal:
- “Target underdeveloped countries with focused initiatives to improve access to clean water and sanitation;
- Foster global cooperation on research and technology development, including regional partnerships among experts on clean water;
- Provide technical assistance and capacity-building to develop expertise within countries facing water and sanitation challenges;
- Provide seed money for the deployment of clean water and sanitation technologies; and
- Strengthen the human infrastructure at USAID and the State Department to implement clean water and sanitation programs effectively and to ensure that water receives priority attention in our foreign policy efforts.”
But with only five cosponsors, the bill isn’t getting the attention it needs for a hearing and further action by Senate leaders. It must have at least 20 cosponsors to move forward.
We can truly make a difference for the millions of people who lack access to water around the world. And you can contribute to the solution simply by sending a letter to your Senator, urging him or her to cosponsor the bill so it can gain traction in the Senate.
It’ll take you less time than refilling your water bottle with the clean water we take for granted. Will you sign?