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Partnering to Create a US WASH Sector

WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) improvements are greatly needed in North America, too.

More than two million people live without running water and basic indoor plumbing in the US, as do many of the 630 First Nations communities in Canada. The need for water and sanitation improvements is not limited to middle- and low-income countries, and the inequality has persisted in North America on a devastating scale. It’s the most marginalized who are left behind—with neglected infrastructure, contaminated water supplies, or no infrastructure at all.

For years Water For People has received requests to extend programming to the United States and Canada. Many of the racial and economic issues in the countries we work within are present within US infrastructure and access as well. The recent water crisis in Jackson, Mississippi, is only one example of this. There’s also Flint, Michigan, and contaminated water supplies in New York City, Baltimore, and Hawaii, to name a few more. The economic impact of this crisis is also staggering at a cost of $8.58 billion each year we choose not to solve it.

On October 6, Water For People joined Dig Deep, a human rights nonprofit working to ensure every American has access to clean running water and sanitation, in leading over a dozen of the nation’s key WASH leaders in discussions for how to build a structured coalition for collective action; begin setting regional priorities; share data, technology, and funding approaches; and align on policy advocacy efforts. Most notably, the coalition agreed to a draft US WASH Sector Statement of Principles and roadmap to achieve universal and sustainable WASH access in the US.

A formalized US WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene) sector would consist of a well-structured coalition of NGOs, government agencies, funders, researchers, technologists, and community advocates all working collaboratively towards shared goals, like UN Sustainable Development Goal 6 which "Ensure[s] availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all." Eventually, this US WASH sector could grow to encompass hundreds of organizations.

Water For People is ultimately committed to a simple vision: Everyone Forever. And Everyone means Everyone. We’re looking forward to bringing the same systems-change approach that has helped communities create sustainable water access all over the world into North America, too.

Photo courtesy of DigDeep.

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