Natural ecosystems such as forests, grasslands, and wetlands harvest water, remove chemical and biological contaminants, and store and deliver this water for human use. USAID investments in biodiversity conservation can thus complement and protect investments in water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) by increasing the reliability and quality of water flows to human populations. Indeed, recent research has found linkages between higher forest cover and decreased diarrheal disease among children in rural communities.
Similarly, by improving the treatment of wastewater and increasing water use efficiency, USAID water programming can reduce pollution of aquatic ecosystems and decrease the amount of water taken from rivers or lakes so as to help maintain aquatic biodiversity.
This brief is an introduction for those interested in biodiversity integration with water and sanitation at USAID.