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Congress Should Continue Bipartisan Support For WASH Programs

“Almost 800 million people have no safe drinking water and an astounding 2.5 billion people lack basic sanitation worldwide. But unlike so many complex problems, sustainable solutions to the global water crisis really are within our reach. We have the technology. We need the leadership,” Rabbi Jack Bemporad, director of the Center for Interreligious Understanding and the John Paul II Center for Interreligious Dialogue, and six other religious leaders write in the Huffington Post’s “Religion” blog. “With bipartisan support, the Senate recently voted to increase [water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH)] foreign aid funding,” they note, adding, “This increase would bring sustainable solutions to another million people.” In addition, “a bipartisan group of 15 House members [introduced] the Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act of 2013, a bill that focuses on increasing efficiency, effectiveness, and transparency in our current WASH programs without spending a penny more,” they state.

“Perhaps Congress is starting to understand that we can curtail malnutrition, prevent disease, and reduce poverty. We can support new methods of sustainable farming; promote girls’ education and gender equality. But it all depends on the foundation of one thing: access to safe water and sanitation,” the authors write. “If our much-maligned Congress is up to the task of expanding safe water and sanitation to more families around the world, then the religious community certainly should be there in support,” they state, adding, “There remains much good work to be done and right now we are seeing a rare moment in Congress in which to do it.” The authors conclude, “Tell Congress to keep up this good work by passing the Water for the World Act and the [Senate] FY14 funding recommendation of $405 million for global water projects” (8/27).