For over 50 years, USAID has brought clean water, healthy food, and productive livelihoods to hundreds of millions of people. We are constantly evaluating best practices, assessing lessons learned, and embracing cutting-edge innovations. It was in this spirit that we recently released our first-ever global Water and Development Strategy for 2013-2018. This five-year roadmap makes USAID’s approach to water programs transparent and addresses global water-related development needs with increased selectivity and focus. This special edition of Global Waters is devoted to the themes of the Strategy.
The Water and Development Strategy steers USAID’s water programs toward two straightforward, strategic objectives for survival: Water for Health and Water for Food. It is our hope that improvements in water supply, sanitation, and hygiene programs and sound management and use of water for food security will save lives and advance development.
Water for Health: By focusing similar levels of investments in fewer countries for greater impact, USAID hopes to reach a minimum of 10 million people with sustainable access to improved water supply and 6 million people with sustainable access to improved sanitation services over the next five years.
Water for Food: To achieve greater crop yields in the most effective way, USAID will align with the priorities of the Feed the Future Presidential Initiative, encourage maximizing efficiency of rainfall and moisture, and increase irrigated agriculture in select countries, including expanding it in a responsible, efficient, sustainable, and climate-resilient way.
USAID will achieve these objectives by forging partnerships, embracing creativity, and creating sustainable water programs to improve health and food security. In this issue, we highlight some programs that have fostered healthy communities and improved food security. In the Gaza Strip, USAID built a wastewater network that eliminated the raw sewage that used to flow through the streets and spread diseases. In rural Cambodia where open defecation is the norm, USAID partnered with entrepreneurs to develop and market affordable toilets that are flying off the shelves. In rural Ethiopia, USAID enabled smallholder farmers to irrigate their crops for the first time, helping them feed their families despite the devastating impacts of climate change. And in Honduras, USAID trains farmers to irrigate their crops more efficiently, enabling them to grow a more nutritious variety of vegetables.
The Water and Development Strategy will pave the way for more life-changing activities like these. We hope you enjoy reading about them in this issue of Global Waters and that you will engage with us on the best ways to strategically and sustainably improve lives.
The Water Office
Last updated: June 19, 2013