[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) today commended the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for investing $8.5 million in the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) new WASH for Life grant program. WASH for Life will use USAID's Development Innovation Ventures program to seek, test, and scale cost-effective and sustainable clean water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) delivery systems in developing countries. USAID will match The Gates Foundation’s investment, making a total of $17 million available for innovative, new solutions.
“Access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation is a right that everyone in the world ought to enjoy but too few are able to realize,” Durbin said. “I applaud the Gates Foundation and USAID for working together to find new solutions to improve access and address this devastating problem.”
The WASH for Life grant program will focus its efforts on those earning under $2 a day in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Ghana, Haiti, India, Kenya, Nigeria, and other countries. It intends to provide grants to WASH sector entrepreneurs and developers of resourceful solutions to the problems faced by the developing world in providing safe drinking water and adequate sanitation to residents.
Durbin has long worked to improve access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation services for the nearly one billion people worldwide currently lacking it. Earlier this year, Durbin and Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) introduced the Water for the World Act, a bill that builds on the success of the Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act of 2005 by placing clean water at the forefront of America’s development priorities. The legislation seeks to reach 100 million people around the world with sustainable first time access to clean water and sanitation within 6 years of enactment and includes provisions for this kind of innovating public private cost sharing approach. Earlier this year USAID also established a Global Water Coordinator to more effectively provide water and sanitation programs to the world’s poor – also a key provision of the Durbin/Corker bill.