WaterAid America is deeply disappointed with the U.S. Senate State and Foreign Operations funding bill for fiscal year (FY) 2024, which would significantly cut funding to the water and sanitation program at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
The bill cuts funding for safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programs by $147.8 million for FY 2024, reducing funding for WASH by over 31%. This cut threatens the progress made in ensuring people have access to WASH and, in turn, threatens the health, livelihoods and stability of communities, especially in sub-Saharan Africa where needs are greatest.
Water and WASH access are critical for all development outcomes, including agriculture, food and nutrition security, pandemic response and preparedness, maternal and child health, and women’s empowerment. This proposed cut comes despite significant and growing global needs, recognition that WASH access is critical to national security, and surveys showing that Americans believe access to clean drinking water should be a top priority in U.S. foreign policy.
Since FY 2008, strong bipartisan Congressional support for bilateral WASH has meant that 65 million people have gained access to drinking water services and 51 million people have gained access to sanitation services. Over 50% of that access was gained by women and girls, who most often bear the burden of the water crisis.
The US House of Representatives provided steady funding of $475 million for water and sanitation at USAID in its FY 2024 funding bill. USAID uses these funds to address the WASH needs of communities, including mothers and children, in an effective and timely manner.WASH investments strengthen our national security and achieve numerous development priorities, such as ensuring adequate and healthy food supply, healthy moms and newborns, improved nutrition outcomes and prevention of infectious disease outbreaks.
The cuts proposed by the Senate would quickly and directly impact current planning, global commitments and future programs to address WASH needs of families and communities.
WaterAid welcomes the bipartisan support from the House of Representatives and encourages Congress to protect and expand current WASH funding levels in final appropriations conference negotiations.