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People who want to learn about and take action on the world’s biggest challenges. Extreme poverty ends with you.

Water & Sanitation

That one time I talked about poop in Congress

Flickr: Dirk Guinan

In 2012, I had an opportunity to spend a day in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya with a social enterprise called Sanergy. The program supports women in the slum as they purchase toilets. Each toilet-owner becomes a true business woman as she charges her neighbors a small fee to use the toilets. I’ll never forget the women I met that day who told me how their toilets helped them earn enough money to send their kids to school. And, at the same time, improved access to sanitation within their community had helped disease rates drop dramatically!

The most exciting thing about my job today at the Global Poverty Project is that I have the opportunity to share stories like this with global citizens all around the world.

At the Global Poverty Project, we know that one of the best ways to address extreme poverty is to ensure that every person – regardless of where they are born – has access to improved drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene.

And, we’re not alone in this belief. The Kaiser Family Foundation released a survey this year which shows that Americans believe that providing access to clean drinking water should represent the top global health priority in US foreign policy.

Last week, the Global Poverty Project joined forces with United Nations Foundation to host a congressional briefing: Increasing Access to Improved Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene. The briefing was supported by members of congress like Congressman Earl Blumenauer, Congressman Charlie Dent, Congressman Richard Hanna, Congresswoman Nita Lowey, and Congressman Ted Poe.

Congressman Earl Blumenauer and Congressman Ted Poe recognize the power of increasing access to water which is why they sponsored the Water for the World Act last session.

To kick off the event, Congressman Ted Poe spoke about the work that he did last year in support of the bill. He called on global citizens to “preach the gospel” about the importance of water and sanitation!

Then, Katie Taylor who works as the Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Bureau of Global Health at USAID spoke about the strong connection between access to sanitation and global health. Katie reminded us that there is so much more that we need to do to ensure that all children have access to water and sanitation.

This week, the Global Poverty Project team is visiting  India to see sanitation efforts on the ground. As countries like India make bold commitments to become open defecation free, it is important that countries like the United States stand behind them.

For this reason, over 50 female political leaders and business leaders have stepped up to sign the Women for Water and Sanitation Declaration and call for a world that is open defecation free.

Increasing access to improved water, sanitation, and hygiene has clear moral and economic impacts. But, it is so much more than that. The US intelligence community, in its 2012 Assessment on Global Water Security found that “water problems will contribute to instability in states important to US national security interests” and that “the developing world will look to the United States to lead the global community toward the development and implementation of sound policies for managing water resources at the local, national, and regional levels…”

So right now, it is key that the 114th Congress should increase funding for the Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act to $425m in FY16.

The investment that the United States makes in water and sanitation has had an enormous impact. By signing the petition in TAKE ACTION NOW you can help ensure that more people have access to sanitation and that more babies are protected from disease.

Thanks to our friends at Influence Graphics for their support of the congressional briefing: Increasing Access to Improved Drinking Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene! 
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