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USAID Participation in the 2022 World Water Forum

USAID staff engage with visitors to USAID’s exhibition space. Photo credit: Marc Sylva
Summary

The World Water Forum is the world's largest event on water. Organized every three years by the World Water Council in partnership with a host country, this year’s Forum was held in Dakar, Senegal, the first time the event was hosted in sub-Saharan Africa. The Forum brought together government officials, water sector advocates, and WASH experts and practitioners to advance the global discussion on water security. As a platinum sponsor, USAID participated in several key ways at this year’s event.

 

USAID Renews Commitment to Water Security and Sanitation

Watch Dr. Barnhart’s full remarks

Dr. Jim Barnhart, Assistant to the Administrator in USAID’s Bureau for Resilience and Food Security, announced USAID’s three-year commitment of $1.2 billion to bolster foreign assistance on sustainable water security and sanitation so that people and nations have the water they need to be healthy, prosperous, stable, and resilient. “I’m very excited. This is the first time the U.S. Government has been able to make a multi-year commitment for the water sector,” shared Barnhart.

Of the 21 High Priority Countries designated by USAID for FY22, Barnhart shared that 15 are in Africa, demonstrating how sub-saharan Africa is a priority for the Agency’s water and sanitation portfolio. 

USAID participated in sessions throughout the week, highlighting the importance of governance and finance in the sector and the need to “take that $1.2 billion and leverage even more money from our host countries’ government partners and the private sector into the water and sanitation sector,” said USAID Acting Deputy Assistant Administrator and Interim Global Water Coordinator Jeff Goldberg.

The Forum also focused on sanitation, a topic that is often left behind in water-focused discourse. USAID supported this broader view by featuring sanitation work throughout the Forum. USAID’s ACCES (Sanitation, Behavior Change, and Water for Senegal) project highlighted its market-based sanitation products such as the Digni-Loo, an affordable, durable, safe, hygienic, and easy–to–install sturdy plastic household latrine. Learn more about USAID’s work in sanitation

 

USAID Highlights Need for Higher Level of Investments in the Sector 

Watch Jeff Goldberg’s full remarks

USAID hosted a session entitled Bridging the Governance and Finance Gaps in the WASH Sector. Led by Goldberg, the session underscored the need to invest $263 billion per year to achieve universal access to water and sanitation by 2030. This figure is more than $100 billion over previous estimates, reflecting the reality that investments have been significantly below requirements to meet targets. Discussions during the session reinforced the importance of disseminating lessons from technical assistance widely and fostering government leadership as part of future programming to increase available funds and support. Learn more about USAID’s approach to governance and finance in the sector.

 

USAID Supports Dialogue Around the Role of Women in the Sector 

Women are disproportionately affected by the absence of adequate water supply and sanitation facilities and often bear the responsibilities for collecting water and maintaining sanitation facilities. Despite this, women are change makers, leaders and driving forces who can articulate and implement what is needed in the sector.

Along those lines, USAID co-hosted a Women’s Dialogue under the theme Supporting Growth and Promoting Visibility of Women WASH Professionals: Key to Success of the Sector as part of the Forum’s side events. The event attracted more than 250 participants from across Africa.. A key outcome was a declaration asserting the need to create space for women with multidisciplinary backgrounds to enter the sector to help address issues of inclusion and infrastructural gaps. Learn more about USAID’s approach to gender equality and empowerment in the sector.

Panelists articulating their views on the need to enhance women’s participation in WASH. Photo credit: USAID/WASH-FIN

Panelists articulating their views on the need to enhance women’s participation in WASH
Photo credit: USAID/WASH-FIN

 

USAID’s Exhibition Space Facilitates Exchange of Information and Ideas

USAID hosted an exhibition space where Forum participants learned where and how USAID supports WASH and water resource management around the world. More than 2,000 visited the space, including local and regional students, young professionals, entrepreneurs, researchers, as well as international WASH experts – eager to learn more about how they might engage with USAID.

USAID staff host meetings with key stakeholders in USAID’s exhibition space. Photo credit: USAID/Senegal

USAID staff host meetings with key stakeholders in USAID’s exhibition space.
Photo credit: USAID/Senegal

This World Water Forum provided a platform for USAID to demonstrate its commitment to addressing water security, lead discussions around important topics such as finance and women’s role in the sector, and connect with local governments, organizations, and private sector actors. “Next year USAID’s 21 High Priority Countries will develop their implementation plans and set their priorities for each country,” shared Lisa Schechtman, Senior Policy and Partnerships Advisor for USAID’s Center for Water Security, Sanitation, and Hygiene. “The conversations and connections made during the event help ensure that those plans demonstrate local priorities and local solutions.”

 

By Carmelita Francois, a WASH advisor in USAID’s RFS Center for Water Security, Sanitation and Hygiene.