Dec 16, 2014

Water for the World Act Goes to the President's Desk

After passing Congress, the bill is only one step away from becoming legislation

The HR 2901 bill, also known as the Paul Simon Water for the World Act, passed Congress unanimously, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) announced.

“Last night, despite the odds, we saw such an achievement as the Senate passed the Sen. Paul Simon Water for the World Act, my bipartisan legislation to improve global water, health and sanitation and improve the lives of millions across the world,” Blumenauer said in a statement.

The bill, led by Blumenauer and Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX), was drafted as a way to refine and improve the current Sen. Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act to make better use of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) funds by strengthening accountability of WASH programs already underway, and ensure the greatest impact on communities worldwide, without spending new money or creating new bureaucracy.

A release from Blumenauer’s office points out what changes will happen if the bill is approved by the president and becomes legislation. The following is a direct excerpt from the release:

What Would This Legislation Do?

Given the scope of need and federal budget constraints, it is essential that we leverage innovation, partnerships, transparency and accountability to strengthen U.S. water and sanitation foreign assistance so we can reach the billions still in need.

The Water for the World Act (HR 2901 in the U.S. House of Representatives) will:

  • Ratify the existing capacity in the U.S. government to ensure [that] WASH remains a policy priority, and that expertise is available at USAID and State Department headquarters, and in country-level USAID missions, to guide implementation of effective and sustainable WASH programs;
  • Sharpen the criteria for choosing high-priority countries to ensure that limited funds are directed to the countries and communities most in need, recognizing evidence that the poorest people benefit most from receiving WASH services;
  • Increasing integration of WASH programs with other critical interventions, including child survival, global health, food security and nutrition, and gender equality, to increase their efficiency and impact;
  • Advance best practices of effective aid, such as improved monitoring and evaluation and a focus on leveraging non-federal partnerships and funds;
  • Improve the strategic approach to international safe water, sanitation and hygiene, and to water resource management, by providing guidance that builds on USAID’s own Water and Development Strategy (May 2013), such as by requiring transparency in country priorities, the results of field programs, and regular reviews of progress using recognized metrics.

Photo: Matt Wade/Wikimedia Commons