Congress discuss the SOLVABLE global water Issue

September 21, 2015

The Foreign Affairs Committee held a joint hearing on September 9, 2015 entitled “The Role of Water in Avoiding Conflict and Building Prosperity.” The hearing was hosted by the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations and the Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats. The conversation mostly focused on water issues as they pertain to the regions of Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Those regions also happen to be the areas of concentration of FIU’s Global Water for Sustainability Program (GLOWS), which focuses on providing water management services to people and ecosystems, including integrated water management policies, water supply, sanitation, and hygiene improvements, and research and education programs in the water sector.

General statistics presented at the hearing

  • 261 waterways that cross international boundaries
  • 204 instances where water-related issues led to international conflict
    • 61 were recent
  • Worlds Health Organization estimates 14,000 people die daily from water-related diseases
    • ½ of those affected live in Africa
    • 1/5 of those affected live in south Asia
  • 155 million hours a day spent by women and children attempting to secure water
  • 663 million people lack access to clean water

Recommendations/observations presented at the hearing

  • Focus on South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Assist countries to asses water sanitation
  • Department of State should make high priority to increasing water tariffs
  • State Dept. should reengage in Nile missions
    • i.e. negotiating who has jurisdiction over dam reservoirs between the three countries surrounding it
    • World bank scaled back on Nile missions
  • Establish easily accessible infrastructure
  • Implement competitive market strategies
    • Better usage of funds come with skin-in-the-game
  • Problems mainly caused by droughts, unsafe water, safe water without proper infrastructure to get it to people, regimes restricting people from safe water, lacking proper sanitation facilities
    • Problem is SOLVABLE.