By 2025, two thirds of the world’s population may be living in severe water stress conditions. This stress adversely affects individuals, communities, economies, and ecosystems around the world, especially in developing countries. Ensuring the availability of safe water to sustain natural systems and human life is integral to the success of the development objectives and the foreign policy goals of the United States. Building on the lessons learned from the implementation of the MDGs, the world leaders approved, in September 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals with more ambitious targets (Goal 6) for drinking water– achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all, and sanitation -achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations. Low rates of access to safe drinking water in West Africa are exacerbated by rapid and unplanned urbanization, increases in large scale and irrigated agriculture, limited water resources, insufficient financing, and inadequate human capacity. These major challenges are intensified by the effects of climate change and increased deterioration of watersheds.
It is widely recognized that inadequate access to water and sanitation services has enormous health, economic, and social consequences. Poor water quality continues to pose a major threat to human health. Diarrheal disease is the second leading cause of death in children under five years old, and is responsible for killing around 760,000 children every year (WHO, 2013). A significant proportion of diarrheal disease can be prevented through safe drinking-water and adequate sanitation and hygiene. In communities that lack safe drinking water, women and girls spend several hours each day collecting water from distant sources, and this reduces opportunities to attend school.
PROGRAM GOALS AND DESCRIPTION
Phase I (2011-2015) goal is to increase access to potable water and sanitation and improve hygiene. The Program introduced innovative and low-cost water and sanitation technologies, and promoted appropriate hygienic behaviors at the community level. The Program also developed practical models of sustainable WASH service delivery and increased the capacity of national and regional institutions to replicate these approaches and models throughout the region.
Phase II (2016-2017) is designed to support the USAID/West Africa Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) portfolio. Phase II activities will build on the lessons learned from the past four years to reinforce the capacity of regional organizations. USAID WA-WASH is also partnering with the African Water Association to serve as a WASH knowledge management and information sharing platform.