Worldwide demand for water is steadily increasing as industrialization, agricultural use, urbanization, and a rising standard of living for the globe’s growing population drive water consumption ever higher. Slightly more than one-half of available freshwater supplies are currently used for human purposes, and world water demand doubles every 20 years.
Successful management of freshwater resources is a critical development issue. By 2025, more than 2.8 billion people—35% of the world’s projected population—will live in 48 countries facing water stress or water scarcity. One in every four people in the developing world—more than 1.2 billion people—currently lack access to a safe water supply, and two in five have no access to improved sanitation (connection to a public sewer or septic system, or access to a pour-flush latrine, simple pit latrine, or ventilated improved pit latrine). Lack of water, poor water quality, inadequate sanitation, and poor hygiene practices are directly responsible for the vast majority of cases of diarrheal disease, which kill over 2 million children each year. In addition, water resources management has an impact on insects that carry diseases, most notably mosquitoes. Malaria alone kills over 1 million people each year, with ninety percent of these deaths in subSaharan Africa, mainly among children. USAID investments reflect the urgent need to provide safe and affordable domestic water supply and integrate it into overall water management. USAID also promotes sanitation and hygiene to protect drinking water sources, the environment, and human health.
USAID estimates that it will obligate for FY 2005 more than $543 million to a variety of waterrelated activities. This figure includes a preliminary estimate of $17.8 million in Iraq for water activities from a proposed Supplemental Appropriation for Iraq Relief and Reconstruction.