Remarks for Deputy Administrator Bonnie Glick at the Global Handwashing Day Virtual Event

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

[As Prepared]

Welcome everyone. I’m Bonnie Glick, the Deputy Administrator of USAID. Thank you all for joining us today—and a special welcome to the Honorable Minister of Sanitation and Water Resources of the Republic of Ghana, Cecilia Abena Dapaah.

We have seen great progress in our efforts to expand access to sustainable water, sanitation, and hygiene over the years. We are proud of these results.

And I had the chance to see some of this progress last November when I visited Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh. I saw how that community is improving its sanitation through educational events that encourage good hygiene practices among all community members. It was terrific to watch some of the children demonstrate in a play what they had learned about handwashing directly from USAID programming.

This kind of progress would not be possible without our great partnerships. I want to thank all of the implementing partners, NGOs, donors, and champions in the audience today for their support and attention to water, sanitation, and hygiene.

And we know our work is far from done—the COVID-19 crisis has made this apparent and highlighted the gaps that still exist.

These numbers are daunting in a normal year. But in 2020—during a pandemic, where washing your hands can stop the spread of a deadly disease—these numbers are staggering.

Three billion people currently live without basic handwashing facilities at home, one in six health facilities worldwide has no hygiene service, and more than 800 million children go to schools that don’t have handwashing facilities with soap and water.

And there are new challenges, too, even in the places where drinking water is usually accessible. People have less money to pay for water as incomes drop and prices rise. Systems are breaking down as workers are laid off and resources are becoming scarce.

We’ve pivoted our water, sanitation, and hygiene programs during COVID-19 to address these challenges. For example, USAID’s Sanitation Service Delivery program teamed up with the Government of Benin and local micro-entrepreneurs to lead handwashing campaigns and deliver systems, soaps, and hand sanitizer to homes.

But we know that these are huge challenges for any one institution to bear alone. That’s why USAID believes that partnerships and private sector engagement are so essential. The private sector has the capital, the innovation, and the scale to shape solutions that achieve sustained impact.

And we are putting this belief into action. I am excited to announce that just last night, USAID’s Assistant to the Administrator Jim Barnhart and LIXIL Group President and CEO Kinya Seto formalized a new partnership that will leverage LIXIL’s market-based solutions to take action on inclusive sanitation and hygiene.

In this case, the solution is a small blue toilet liner called the SATO Pan, which is locally made and self-sustaining through a design that ensures hygiene and responsible water usage in underserved communities. The SATO Pan is currently available in 25 African and Asian countries—and this new partnership will allow an expansion to 11 countries in those regions.

We are so excited to work with LIXIL on this initiative. Private sector ingenuity and innovations like the SATO Pan bring private capital to the table in the form of investments, job creation, and economic growth. It is a powerful engine for lifting the most vulnerable out of poverty.

These investments are more important now than ever. Sanitation, hygiene, and safe drinking water are all connected. And as shown by this new partnership, they will continue to be a priority in our Agency response to COVID-19. We know what is at stake—failing to address hygiene will undo months worth of effort to contain this pandemic and years-worth of progress.

We look forward to a successful partnership. And I am thrilled that we are taking time this week to highlight the importance of water, sanitation, and hygiene across the board—especially the great innovations in this space.

In the meantime, I encourage you all to check out the new USAID Water and Development Report for more details—and for the stories of the businesses, individuals, and communities that are better off because of our support.

Thanks again for joining today. Next up, we’ll hear from Acting USAID Administrator, John Barsa.

Last updated: October 14, 2020

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