More than 150 people attended an April 19th town hall meeting at the U.S. Department of State, where ECSP Director Geoff Dabelko offered suggestions for implementing the recently passed "Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act 2005":

  • Diversify leadership on water and sanitation to include other sectors (e.g., health, education, development) in the U.S. government and developing countries;
  • Help developing countries finance water projects by transferring successful U.S. financing models and governance structures; and
  • Recognize the geopolitical importance of water and its relationship to conflict and cooperation at the international level.

    The Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act of 2005 (HR 1973/PL-109-121) requires that the Department of State with the U.S. Agency for International Development develop a strategy to further U.S. foreign assistance objectives to provide affordable and equitable access to safe water and sanitation in developing countries. The Act directs that the strategy be developed in consultation with "other appropriate Federal departments and agencies, international organizations, international financial institutions, recipient governments, United States and international nongovernmental organizations, indigenous civil society, and other appropriate entities."

    The Department of State is soliciting written comments from interested groups on:
  • Their priorities and activities in the water sector;
  • Novel approaches to addressing water and sanitation issues in developing countries;
  • Impediments to accomplishing priority goals; and
  • Areas where the U.S. government could improve the environment for implementation.

    At the meeting, Assistant Secretary for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs Claudia McMurray said the department was particularly interested in hearing suggestions on:
  • Local financing;
  • Governance;
  • Integrating water in other sectors; and
  • Disaster response.

    Written comments should be submitted to Ms. Aneri Patel, U.S. Department of State, OES/PCI Room 7821, 2201 C Street, NW., Washington, DC 20520 or by e-mail to no later than April 30, 2006. Written comments should be limited to 1500 words.

    Other speakers at the meeting, which was sponsored by the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, included representatives from UNICEF, National Wildlife Federation, Population Services International, Millennium Water Alliance, Global Water, Catholic Relief Services, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Africare, and the Global Environmental Management Initiative.

    For further information, please contact Aneri Patel at: 1-866-501-7952 or by e-mail at