Good News for Development as US Approves $400 Million in Funding for Water and Toilets

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WaterAid celebrates today the decision by US Congressional leaders to increase government funding of clean water, sanitation and hygiene programs in countries struggling with the vicious cycle of extreme poverty. The long awaited spending bill was passed on December 18, carrying with it the potential to transform the lives of more than 170,000 people.

Chalachew Sewmehon, 7, washes his hands at the new water point.

By providing increased funding for water, sanitation and hygiene, Congress has made it possible for us to reach more people with a foundation of good health, secure educational opportunities, and safety.

The newly approved bill sets out $400 million in funding specifically earmarked for investment in clean water, toilets and hygiene over the course of 2016. It upholds commitments made under the Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act of 2005 to prioritize access to these basic life necessities for people living in the world’s poorest and most marginalized communities and will fund US government operations until September 2016.

“Today, Congress has sent a message about how critical international development and global health are to our own national agenda, and to our role as a member of the global community. We are thrilled with this holiday gift from Congressional leaders and grateful for their support,” said WaterAid Director of Policy and Advocacy, Lisa Schechtman.

The bill was passed as part of a package of complementary spending bills, including funding for global health programs and broader development assistance. It represents an increase of over $17 million USD for water, sanitation and hygiene programs as compared to the last year, and could potentially provide at least 170,000 more people with the clean water and hygienic toilets.

One in 3 people across the world today do not have access to a safe, hygienic toilet, while fully 1 in 10 people lack clean drinking water. The newly approved funding will help to change this scenario. When clean water, toilets and basic hygiene are widely available, girls are able to attend and stay in school, women have the time to start and run small businesses and half of the world’s hospital beds will no longer be filled by people suffering from preventable water-related diseases.

“By providing increased funding for water, sanitation and hygiene,” said Schechtman. “Congress has made it possible for us to reach more people with a foundation of good health, secure educational opportunities, and safety. It is critical that we maintain this momentum, ensuring that funding for all development assistance continues to grow, in order to contribute to a more just and secure world.”

The increase illustrates a recognition on the part of the US government that clean water, sanitation and hygiene activities are to essential to eradicate poverty, safeguard maternal and child health, improve nutrition, and create resilient communities.

This bill comes at the end of a year that has been full of global shifts, including the adoption of both the Global Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement. As countries around the world move to implement these global agreements, WaterAid will continue to call on the US government to take these commitments seriously.

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Note to editors

  •     Around 315,000 children die each year from diarrheal diseases caused by dirty water and poor sanitation. That’s nearly 900 children each day or one child every two minutes.
  •     748 million people live without water that is safe for consumption; that’s 1 in 10 people worldwide.
  •     More than 2.3 billion people live without sanitation, or 1 in 3 people worldwide.
  •     For every $1 invested in water and sanitation, an average of $4 is returned in increased productivity.

About WaterAid

WaterAid is the #1 ranked international non-profit dedicated to helping the world’s poorest people gain access to safe water, toilets and hygiene, and transform their lives. WaterAid has programs and influence in 37 countries across Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Pacific region. Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 21 million people with safe water and, since 2004, 18 million people with toilets and sanitation.

Connect with WaterAid at and @WaterAidAmerica, or find out more at

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