The Rotary Club of Washington, D.C.. and Water Advocates honored Senators Frist, Reid and McConnell and Representatives Hyde and Blumenauer in recognition of their leadership in bringing safe drinking water and sanitation to the world’s poor.
Rotary and Water Advocates chose these five legislators to thank them for their work in introducing, supporting and passing the Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act of 2005 (Pub. L. No. 109-121), and for dramatically increasing funding for water development last year. The Water for the Poor Act makes the provision of safe drinking water, improved sanitation and hygiene a formal priority of U.S. foreign policy. Safe water is the only Millennium Development Goal thus recognized in U.S. law.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Congressman Earl Blumenauer, the Senate and House sponsors of the bill, received their “Water Advocate” awards in person during a ceremony on Capitol Hill following a well-attended briefing on water and sanitation.
“This authorizing legislation is a vital step forward,” said David Douglas, president of Water Advocates. “We want to highlight the time, energy and selfless support of these five legislators for this under-recognized global public health threat. We also urge Congress to increase funding this year for the issue of unsafe drinking water, which continues to be the deadliest threat to children in the developing world.”
In his remarks, Senator Frist stated that as a physician he is acutely aware of the deadly impact of unsafe water and waterborne diseases, and of the opportunity for the U.S. government, led by the Department of State, to assume a greater leadership role in eliminating these millions of preventable illnesses and deaths.
Currently, 1.1 billion people around the world lack access to safe drinking water, and 2.6 billion people are without basic sanitation. Diseases related to unsafe water and inadequate sanitation cause over 80% of illnesses in the developing world and kill between 2 and 5 million children each year. Access to safe drinking water and sanitation serves as a catalyst for better public health, education, poverty reduction and gender equality. It also helps bring stability to areas of conflict and crisis where citizens are disenfranchised and desperate for the most basic necessities.
Water Advocates is a U.S. nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing American support for worldwide access to safe, affordable, and sustainable drinking water and adequate sanitation.