USAID Leadership on the White House Action Plan on Global Water Security

Today, Vice President Harris announced the first-of-its-kind White House Action Plan on Global Water Security. This plan will harness the resources of the U.S. government—from leveraging science and technology to informing our diplomacy, defense, and development efforts—to advance progress toward global water security goals. The plan will engage partner countries, civil society, and the private sector to support a more water-secure world for all. The Vice President was joined by Administrator Samantha Power, Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks, MCC CEO Alice Albright, and MCC Director Sonia Shahrigian.

USAID recognizes the threats posed by water insecurity worldwide. The latest analysis estimates nearly 2.2 billion people—almost one-third of people on the planet— lack access to safe and reliable water. The climate crisis also threatens water security worldwide, making it increasingly difficult for billions of people to access the water they need to grow crops or to support their businesses. In the Horn of Africa region, climate change is exacerbating already dire drought conditions. Globally, water-related and water-adjacent conflicts are on the rise. For example, due to Russia’s unprovoked war in Ukraine and attacks on civilian infrastructure— one-quarter of Ukrainians have now lost access to safe drinking water, creating risk of cholera and other diseases, and compounding already destroyed livelihoods.

In response, the new White House Action Plan on Global Water Security lays out an innovative, whole-of-government approach to this challenge and is organized around the following pillars:

Advancing U.S. leadership in the global effort to achieve universal and equitable access to sustainable, climate-resilient, safe, and effectively managed water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services without increasing greenhouse gas emissions. Recognizing the immense progress needed to achieve global WASH goals, the plan emphasizes the importance of affordable and sustainable WASH services, locally led solutions, and addressing the inequity that results from water insecurity—particularly for women and girls.
Promoting sustainable management and protection of water resources and associated ecosystems to support economic growth, build resilience, mitigate the risk of instability or conflict, and increase cooperation. The United States will work to ensure that efforts to meet global water needs use resources effectively and efficiently to provide long-term benefits. This approach recognizes the importance of nature-based solutions, including drawing on Indigenous and local knowledge.
Ensuring that multilateral action mobilizes cooperation and promotes water security. Efforts to promote water cooperation through regional and multilateral fora is essential to facilitating greater collaboration among countries that share water resources. We will elevate water security across our diplomatic efforts and identify opportunities where water engagement can lead to stronger regional ties.
USAID will contribute to improving sustainable access to water, sanitation and hygiene and water resources management. The action plan will build on the success of USAID’s assistance that to date has resulted in 59 million people gaining access to water services and 44 million gaining improved sanitation in more than 40 countries.

The action plan provides high-level policy framing that will be implemented by department and agency activities, including through planned funding commitments made by the Administration or appropriated by Congress. This includes USAID’s $1.2 billion, three-year commitment to bolster foreign assistance on sustainable water security and sanitation and USAID’s commitment to leverage $1 billion in public and private financing for climate-resilient water and sanitation services by 2030 under the President’s Emergency Plan for Adaptation and Resilience (PREPARE).

This action plan will be operationalized through the U.S. Global Water Strategy, mandated by the Congress in the Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act of 2014. The Department of State and USAID are co-leading the next revision to the GWS that will be submitted to the Congress in early fall 2022.