Good morning! Welcome to the Millennium Challenge Corporation for what promises to be a robust discussion on the link between:
• MCC’s mission to reduce poverty through economic growth; and
• Our commitment to expand access to water and sanitation for the world’s poorest.
What a fantastic turnout!
I thank you all for joining us to mark this year’s World Water Day with a timely conversation about what is working and what challenges remain in bringing basic water and sanitation services to communities around the world.
We are especially pleased that Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia joins us today. We benefit from his steady and strong leadership on the Africa Subcommittee as the Ranking Member. The Senator has been to a number of MCC partner countries. And, we value his advice and counsel on how to make development even more effective.
Congressman Earl Blumenauer of Oregon will also join us shortly. He couldn’t get away from Capitol Hill for the start of our program, but hopes to be here for the panel discussion. He has been an advocate for stronger U.S. leadership in partnering with developing countries worldwide to provide them with the drinking water and sanitation their citizens need.
I’m going to ask Senator Isakson to share his thoughts in a moment, but let me start by framing why this discussion is important. I see two reasons:
• First, providing clean drinking water and reliable sanitation saves lives, improves health and increases productivity.
• Second, unsafe drinking water and unreliable sanitation create real roadblocks to sustainable economic growth and development.
We all know just how acute the problem is.
• Nearly 1 billion people around the world do not have access to clean water.
• 2.5 billion lack basic sanitation.
• A child dies every 20 seconds from a water-related disease.
• The United Nations estimates that more people now die from contaminated and polluted water than from all forms of violence, including wars.
• The search for water falls mainly on the shoulders of women and girls, who often are the ones to miss school as they walk long distances to fetch the water necessary for drinking, cooking and bathing. In some developing countries, women can spend 15 to 17 hours a week looking for water.
• By 2025, 1.8 billion people will be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity that could lead to greater poverty, instability and conflict.
Making smart investments in water security changes all this for the better. The bottom line is that improved access to clean water improves lives.
• Imagine the girls who can stay in school.
• Imagine less disease, leading to fewer days of work and school lost to illness.
• Imagine the businesses that can thrive and create jobs.
Research by the World Health Organization confirms what MCC economists have found—well-designed investments in water supply and distribution can be a cost-effective way of raising the incomes of low-income households.
In other words: We can’t afford not to invest in water and sanitation.
Through the projects designed by our partner countries, the Millennium Challenge Corporation is investing close to 800 million dollars just in water and sanitation projects worldwide. This reflects the global drive toward greater water security.
Ultimately, with clean water, prosperity follows.
Given our mission of global poverty reduction through economic growth, MCC will continue to work with partners committed to expanding access to water and sanitation. Brainstorming and collaborating with governments, the private sector and NGOs will spark the ideas and innovation needed to optimize water security.
Our panel will offer their insights into how we are making the promise of safe and clean water as well as reliable sanitation a reality.
Steve Kaufmann, MCC’s Chief of Staff, will moderate the panel discussion and introduce Congressman Blumenauer when he arrives.
Before turning the program over to Steve, I’d like to invite Senator Johnny Isakson to share his thoughts on development. Please join me in welcoming Senator Isakson to the podium. Senator…