US churches boost World Water Day action commitments

By staff writers
22 Mar 2010

The international relief and development agency, Church World Service, is urging the United States to accelerate its efforts to help meet current and future water needs for all, by urging Congress to approve US $500 million in global funding for safe drinking water and sanitation for 2011.

The move coincides with World Water Day on Monday 22 March 2010 (http://www.waterday.org).

The executive director of CWS, the Rev John L. McCullough, whose agency makes safe, accessible, sustainable water resources one of its top priorities through its development programmes and public advocacy, says adequate US funding for global safe water is vital in addressing “what is the bottom line requirement for life, health, food security and sustainable development in both climate-challenged poor countries and, increasingly, a priority in developed countries.”

McCullough will be among presenters in Washington DC today at a gathering called ‘World Water Day: Americans Doing Our Part’, which is a high-level event co-hosted by Water Advocates and the National Geographic Society, in which a coalition of nearly 30 organisations from government, philanthropic foundations, corporations, NGOs and civic organisations are announcing new commitments in water and sanitation.

The US Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, is headlining the Washington Water Day conference, alongside other keynote speakers.

The 22 March event, billed as the most significant gathering for safe water, sanitation and hygiene ever held in the United States, will kick off two days of activities in the capital by the World Water Day coalition. These are designed to raise greater awareness of World Water Day itself, the serious threats posed by lack of access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene and the proven solutions available, and to a new level of public and private-sector commitments.

The diverse coalition of water, sanitation, hygiene and health organisations engaged in the 2010 World Water Day initiative includes Action Against Hunger, AED, Africare, CARE, Catholic Relief Services, Church World Service, Earth Day Network, Global Water, Global Water Challenge, H2O for Life, InterAction, Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy, Millennium Water Alliance, Natural Resources Defence Council, ONE, PATH, P&G Children’s Safe Drinking Water Programme, Project Concern International, PSI, US Coalition for Child Survival, WaterAid, Water.org, Water Advocates, Water and Sanitation Program, Water For People, the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council and World Vision.

As part of its Water for All campaign, Church World Service has consistently advocated for US funding of global water initiatives and greater international commitments to the crisis.

In countries including Vietnam, the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), Indonesia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kenya and Uganda, Church World Service supports sustainable and accessible community-managed water resource programmes and solutions designed to provide safe drinking water, reduce water-borne diseases, promote enhanced food production, food and nutrition security, mitigate climate stresses and droughts, restore environments and empower women, who in many regions bear the responsibility and walk many miles each day to bring water back to their villages.

According to a survey conducted last year by the London-based consultancy SustainAbility and GlobalScan, water is at the top of environmental concerns among the general public, ahead of the broader issue of climate change.

Among a variety of multi-sector experts polled, 92 per cent said that the food and agriculture industry would need to transform because of the impact of water scarcity on their businesses.

For more information on US World Water Day and the Water Advocacy-National Geographic Water Day event, go to: www.waterday.org

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