World Water Day

March 23, 2010 By Jordan Smith

Commemorating World Water Day, Secretary Clinton made a speech to the National Geographic Society yesterday on why the Obama Administration sees water as an important factor in developing countries. “As water becomes increasingly scarce, it may become a potential catalyst for conflict among–and within—countries,” she said. “The stability of young governments in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other nations depends in part on their ability to provide their people with access to water and sanitation. A lack of water, sanitation, and irrigation we know leads to economic decline, and even can lead to unrest and instability.” Water issues abroad end up affecting the United States at home, she said.  “It’s also a matter of national security. And that’s why President Obama and I recognize that water issues are integral to the success of many of our major foreign policy initiatives.”

Secretary Clinton reflected on the government’s success in tackling water issues around the globe. “USAID has pioneered the use of innovative tools to manage the risk associated with investing in water and sanitation infrastructure,” she said. “As a result, we’ve been able to mobilize local capital to help solve water issues. In some cases, they have leveraged U.S. funds at twenty-to-one ratios.”

As a general approach, USAID and the Millennium Challenge Corporation are taking water seriously. “The Millennium Challenge Corporation is supporting countries that are committed to making needed reforms, improving governance, and taking on the tough development challenges that surround the issue of water,” she said. “USAID is working at a grassroots level and with national ministries to improve governance and capacity-building.”