Water, Water Everywhere

March 18, 2010 By Jordan Smith

Water is an integral part of the Obama administration’s plan for development, said Maria Otero, Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs. “Water has to be fully integrated into development efforts and foreign policy efforts,” said Otero, speaking during a press teleconference this morning. Currently, the U.S. Government allocates one billion dollars per year for promotion of access to water across the globe. “We want to both increase access to water for all and mitigate the conflicts” that prohibit people from accessing that water in the first place. 70% of water use on the planet is for agriculture, and finding more efficient uses for that water will greatly conserve the resource, Otero said.

Water security in developing countries benefits both the American economy and its national security. As Land o’Lakes, Inc. President and CEO Chris Policinski put it, “Providing clean water for communities improves health outcomes and allows for increased productivity because people are sick less often from water-borne diseases.” Indeed, providing drinking water to developing communities is one of the things the U.S. does best, according to Ritu Sharma, Co-Founder and President of Women Thrive Worldwide. “There’s more momentum than there has been in a generation to elevate development and overhaul U.S. assistance so it can do more of what it does well: send girls to school, help eradicate infectious diseases and provide clean drinking water to far-flung communities,” she wrote in December.