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U.S., International Community Should Invest In Global Water Access

Los Angeles Times: Will the world’s next wars be fought over water?
Peter Engelke, senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Strategic Foresight Initiative

“…[W]ater can either contribute to peace and stability or, conversely, help destabilize vulnerable countries and regions around the world. … [W]hen water is not present in sufficient quantity and quality, … food cannot be grown, electricity cannot be produced, and so on. Under extreme conditions, society can begin to break down, and conflict becomes inevitable. … Despite outstanding work by American organizations of every type — public, private, nonprofit, and academic — the fact is that the United States has no coherent global water strategy. … As a world leader, the United States has much to gain from crafting and implementing a global water strategy, including a boost to its reputation and influence abroad. But more importantly, doing so would help ensure that water does what it is supposed to do, which is contribute to the resiliency, stability, and peacefulness of societies in far-flung corners of the world” (3/22).

Huffington Post: Water Turns the Tap on Human Potential
Catherine A. Novelli, U.S. under secretary of state for economic growth, energy, and the environment

“…Many of the water challenges around the world will be exacerbated by climate change and the growing interdependencies between water, energy, food, and the environment. Responding effectively to the nexus of all these factors will require new technologies and government policies that incentivize and support integrated planning and decision making. Coordination between sectors and a financial framework that encourages innovation and risk sharing will be critical. With proper management, water can be a unifying factor between peoples instead of a source of friction. … Water access and safety should never be taken for granted, but it’s difficult to comprehend water’s true value until clean water suddenly no longer flows from the tap. Water sustains life, unlocks opportunity, and is a necessary investment” (3/21).

The Guardian: If we want water for everyone, we’re going to have to pay for it
Kevin Rudd, president of the Asia Society Policy Institute and chair of the Global Partnership on Sanitation and Water for All

“…Access to clean water and basic sanitation is a human right and a public good. But those declarations alone do not solve the financing problem. Water and sanitation services must therefore be paid for, with tariffs adjusted according to the ability of local communities and individuals to pay. For the poorest of poor communities, this will mean zero tariffs or simple public water provision until social and economic conditions improve. … The social, economic, and business case for a quantum change in investment patterns in water, sanitation, and hygiene is clear. The World Health Organization calculates that every $1 invested in water and sanitation has a return of at least $4 in lower health costs, more productivity, and fewer premature deaths. Yet the sector has arguably been the slowest to adapt to the harsh new financial world in which we live, where the constraints of domestic public finance and foreign aid are becoming sharper each year” (3/22).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.