It is an honor to take part in the signing of this MOU between the U.S. Government and the World Bank, pledging us to work hand-in-hand in the water sector.
In support of Secretary Clinton and President Zoellick's vision, USAID sees the challenge of ensuring access to safe drinking water, improving sanitation and hygiene, and increasing the productivity of water in food production and other economic activity as central to the development challenges of the 21st century.
When a third of the world's population lacks access to improved sanitation, when 800 million people lack access to improved drinking water, when preventable diarrheal diseases are the second leading cause of death in children worldwide, we must act.
Our presence here today reflects a basic truth in the development challenges we face: no single government, international institution, civil society group, or private corporation has a monopoly on good ideas, dedicated commitment, or ground truth.
Whether it's the West Africa Water Initiative that brought us together with the Hilton Foundation, UNICEF and a half dozen public/private partners to bring potable water and sanitation to 700,000 people in rural Ghana, Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso; or the Water and Development Alliance with Coca-Cola that has benefitted more than a half million people in 23 countries in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and Asia; or our partnership with NASA and NOAA to help countries predict and better understand the effects of climate change on their water supply and surrounding environment; our joint efforts can achieve much more than the sum of our individual contributions.
It is particularly appropriate that this ceremony coincides International Women's Month, since we know the benefits of involving women as planners, implementers and beneficiaries in all our programs.
From Nepal to Nigeria to Nicaragua, from Sudan to Senegal to South Africa, women are the lead stewards of household water resources; they are the principal stakeholders in sustaining water and sanitation infrastructure; and they are the key to improving irrigation and conservation efforts in agriculture.
I am particularly pleased that USAID, under the leadership of senior advisor Chris Holmes, can support the tireless efforts of Secretary Hillary Clinton and Undersecretary Maria Otero to bring 20 agencies together in a whole of government approach, and that USAID's water team leader, Jim Franckiewicz, has been designated as the senior representative for this work.
We take this responsibility seriously: there's no better investment in our collective future than ensuring a world where water is safe, plentiful and productive. Thank you.
Last updated: June 01, 2012