Executive Summary of the Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act 2009 Report to Congress 

Abridged version. 

The Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act of 2005 (the WfP Act) was signed into law on December 1, 2005. The Act makes access to safe water and sanitation a specific policy objective of U.S. foreign assistance. It requires the Secretary of State, in consultation with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and other U.S. Government agencies, to develop and implement a strategy “to provide affordable and equitable access to safe water and sanitation in developing countries” within the context of sound water resources management. It also requires the Secretary of State, in consultation with the USAID Administrator, to submit an annual report to Congress describing changes in the U.S. strategy and progress in achieving the objectives of the WfP Act.

In FY 2008, the United States obligated more than $1 billion for water- and sanitation-related activities in developing countries (excluding Iraq). Of that amount, over $815 million was obligated in 95 countries worldwide to improve access to safe drinking water and sanitation and promote hygiene. Investments in Sub- Saharan Africa rose to $648.7 million in FY 2008, largely due to obligations by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) under Compacts signed in FY 2007. The United States is one of the largest bilateral donors to water and sanitation activities in developing countries, accounting for 10 percent of all official assistance to the water and sanitation sector in 2006–2007. The United States also remains one of the largest donors to several multilateral development banks and intergovernmental organizations, which are significant contributors to water and sanitation projects.

While many U.S. agencies and departments contribute to international water and sanitation efforts, USAID and MCC provide the vast majority of U.S. financial support for international water and sanitation programs. In FY 2008, USAID obligated $489.6 million for water and sanitation-related activities in 75 countries. Obligations for improving access to safe drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene increased 45 percent over FY 2007 and represented 79.6 percent of overall water-related obligations. Resources committed to water resources management and water productivity increased over FY 2007 but remain a very small percentage of overall support for water and sanitation. Funding support to the Sub-Saharan Africa region nearly doubled over 2008 and now represents 43 percent of total USAID support - more than to any other region. USAID also exceeded the 2008 statutory requirement in the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act that “… not less than $300,000,000 shall be made available for safe drinking water and sanitation supply projects, including water management related to safe drinking water and sanitation.” As a result of USAID investments, more than 7.7 million people received improved access to safe drinking water and nearly 6.3 million received improved access to sanitation. Of these, more than 4.6 million received first-time access to an improved drinking water source and more than 2.1 million to improved sanitation. USAID-sponsored activities to improve the quality of water at its point of use resulted in more than 7.4 billion liters of disinfected drinking water.

In FY 2008, the MCC obligated $546.9 million to water and sanitation-related activities, a significant increase from FY 2007. Nearly 80 percent ($429.0 million) of the total was obligated for safe drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene projects. The MCC also committed $166.4 million for water and sanitation activities in Burkina Faso, Mongolia, and Tanzania. Forty-one percent of these new commitments are for drinking water and sanitation projects; 98 percent are directed towards urban areas.

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