Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: 5,000 People Die Each Day From Water-Related Causes, Most Of Them Children - Forbes
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 22: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) and World Bank President Robert Zoellick, sign a Memorandum of Understanding of World Water day, during an event at the World Bank, on March 22, 2011 in Washington, DC. World Water Day is a international day to celebrate freshwater and was recommended at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. The UN General Assembly designated March 22, 1993 as the first World Water Day. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
Today is World Water Day, and to celebrate the World Bank and the US signed a memorandum of understanding to boost water management efforts.
While some news outlets are currently focused on the US intelligence report that was released today and commissioned by the State Department, it might be helpful to reiterate a fact that Secretary of State Hillary Clintonmentioned in her speech today, and that is:
“More than 5,000 people die each day from causes linked to unsafe water, sanitation, and hygiene, and most of them are children. Millions of women and girls walk for hours every day to collect water for their households, and some of them put their very lives and physical safety at risk.And by 2025, we believe that it could be as much as two-thirds of the world’s population, including in more areas within developed countries where people will be living under water stress. And that will, in turn, both undermine and impede socioeconomic development,” she said.
World Bank President Robert Zoellick cited the same statistic as this: “A lack of safe water and adequate sanitation is the world’s single largest cause of illness, responsible for two million deaths a year. That’s four people every minute – most of them children.”
And that’s happening right now. This seems to be buried among the idea offered up by the intelligence report that water scarcity could lead to war or terrorism after 2022. But by that time 20 million people will have died, most of them children.
Clinton also said that the water crisis can unite people. “
In fact, on water issues, cooperation, not conflict, is and can be the rule,” she said.
Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs Maria Otero explained yesterday that the MOU is “really a call for increased political will” on water issues, to raise the discussions from the cabinet level to discussions with the finance ministers or prime ministers.
Otero also spoke about the Nile Basin Initiative as one area where significant progress on water management has yet to be made. Including its tributaries, the Nile flows through ten countries from its two sources, one in Rwanda and the other in Ethiopia, eventually to Egypt emptying into the Mediterranean Sea. Regarding an effort that started 50 years ago, only six countries so far have come to an agreement on how to share the river’s resources. She added in light of what’s happening in Egypt today it will “take some time before it resolves itself.”
From the State Department’s Fact Sheet:
Potential activities supported under this MOU include (but are not limited to):
Promotion of new technologies to advance access to safe drinking water and hygiene
Rehabilitation of watersheds and wetlands
Improvement of irrigation practices to promote water efficiency
Utilization of remote sensing data to improve water forecasting and water resources management
Mobilization of public-private partnerships and private capital to support water infrastructure and development projects
Identification of areas for potential regional and transboundary cooperation
Knowledge sharing, joint analytical work and harmonization of information
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Benefits to the U.S. Government and World Bank:
Staff exchanges, expert meetings and knowledge sharing will improve the partners’ technical capacity in water resources management and infrastructure development
By leveraging each other’s efforts, both partners will be able use their expertise and resources in a more efficient and effective manner to advance global efforts to better understand and manage water resources
U.S. agencies can learn from global best practices and bring shared knowledge back to benefit U.S. communities
Benefits to the global community:
Open up new avenues for bringing expertise to developing countries that need it the most
Allow the U.S. Government and World Bank to align their financial resources towards investments in water and sanitation
Increase understanding of water at the basin and watershed level to help national governments meet the water needs of their own people