How United States Addresses Global Water Challenges

With the growing problem of water scarcity and the mismanagement of water resources around the globe, the United States of America today said if water challenges worldwide left unaddressed, it will pose a threat to U.S. security interests.

In her remarks at DC, Under Secretary Maria Otero

Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights reported that each day, nearly 4,000 people mostly children under five die from preventable diseases caused by contaminated water.

“Not surprisingly, women and girls are impacted mostFinally, thanks to our esteemed panel for joining us today.” -Ms. Otero

Sudanese Red Crescent volunteers hand out chlorine tablets supplied by UNICEF at water gathering points along the river Nile. 43,000 tablets treating 200,000 gallons of water are distributed daily.UN Photo/Tim McKulka

In addition to the health impacts, water will affect world’s ability to protect the environment, achieve food-and-energy security, and respond to climate change, she added.

She says competition for water and that lack of access to basic water and sanitation services may become a source of conflict.

She reports that in order to better understand the impacts of global water challenges on US national security interests, in 2011 Secretary Clinton requested that the intelligence community produce a National Intelligence Estimate to further study the issue.

She stresses that the release of the unclassified Intelligence Community Assessment on Global Water Security, whose contents draw from the National Intelligence Estimate, confirms much of that if left unaddressed, water challenges worldwide will post a threat to U.S. security interests.

This is in addition to the tremendous burden that water scarcity and the mismanagement of water resources is already placing on populations and critical freshwater and marine ecosystems throughout the world, Ms. Otero underlined.

According to Ms. Otero, in 2010 Secretary Clinton defined five specific steps the U.S. would take to address these challenges.

“First, build and strengthen institutional and human capacity at the local, national and regional levels.” -Ms. Otero

She explains that countries and communities must take the lead in securing their own water futures.

The step includes building support for and strengthening regional mechanisms for advancing cooperation on shared waters. We are already active in many basins throughout the world a'” from the Nile to the Mekong supporting riparian country efforts, she underscored.

The United States recently launched the Shared Waters Partnership to focus donor efforts on key regions throughout the world.

“Second, increase and better coordinate our diplomatic efforts.” -Ms. Otero

She says states must work to raise international awareness; to encourage developing countries to prioritize water and sanitation in national plans and budgets; and to integrate water into global food security, health, and climate change initiatives.

The third step is mobilizing financial support which will require resources, she said.

She notes that in many cases, there is capital within developing countries.

The international community need to work to mobilize these resources towards water and sanitation infrastructure by strengthening local capital markets, providing credit enhancements, and exploring other avenues for support, Ms. Otero highlighted.

“Fourth step is promoting science and technology.” -Ms. Otero

She highlighted that there is no silver bullet and that science and technology can have a huge impact.

She urges the international community to work harder to incentivize the development of technologies that can make a difference at scale and to share U.S. expertise and knowledge with the rest of the world.

And finally fifth step is building and sustain partnerships, Ms. Otero noted.

“We cannot solve this problem on our own.” -Ms. Otero

On April this year, Secretary Clinton launched the U.S. Water Partnership which aims to mobilize U.S. knowledge, expertise, and resources to improve global water security.

Ms. Otero reiterates Secretary Clinton statement that the water crisis is a health crisis, it’s a farming crisis, it’s an economic crisis, it’s a climate crisis, and increasingly, it is a political crisis. And therefore, the international community must have an equally comprehensive response.

On March 2011, the UN reported that the world is facing a looming water scarcity where 1.8 billion people are threatened by absolute water scarcity by 2025 and two-thirds of the world’s population is facing potential shortages.

The UN emphasized that countries must better protect and manage forests to ensure the provision of clean water to vulnerable communities.

In addition, climate change is significantly threatening global water supplies as well. It has also a growing impact on water resources as it alters rainfall patterns and soil humidity, melts glaciers and causes water-related disasters such as floods and droughts, which impact food production. The report estimates that by 2070, this impact will affect up to 44 million people all over the world.

The report also shows that despite projected increases in water demand, there are still nearly one billion people without such access, and this number is growing in cities.

UN says an annual investment of $198 billion, or 0.16 per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP), in the water sector could reduce water scarcity and halve the number of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation in less than four years.

Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn’t preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.