Fifty percent of schools in the developing world lack access to safe drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene education. On March 12, 2008, Water Advocates and partner NGOs will unveil an expansion of the U.S. Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) in Schools Initiative, which will seek to bring safe water and proper sanitation to 1,000 additional schools in the developing world.

The launch will be held at the National Geographic Society's (NGS) Washington, DC, headquarters, and will feature remarks from Gil Grosvenor, chairman of NGS's board of trustees; Ambassador Hattie Babbitt, U.S. Ambassador to the Organization of American States; Carol Bellamy, president and CEO of World Learning; and Peter Gleick, co-founder and president of the Pacific Institute, an adviser to the Environmental Change and Security Program's (ECSP) Navigating Peace Initiative, and a frequent ECSP speaker.

By partnering with corporations, foundations, organizations, and individuals, Water Advocates hopes to expand safe water, sanitation, and hygiene to far more than the current 1,000 schools. Water Advocates' director of partnership development is John Oldfield, who contributed a chapter on community-based water and sanitation initiatives to ECSP's recent publication Water Stories: Expanding Opportunities in Small-Scale Water and Sanitation Projects.

The U.S. government's most high-profile water and sanitation effort is the Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act, which the U.S. Congress passed in 2005 in honor of the late Democratic senator from Illinois, an early and forceful advocate of universal access to safe water. ECSP Director Geoff Dabelko testified before the House Committee on International Relations regarding the bill, and ECSP has been active in exploring the opportunities and challenges associated with implementing it.

For more information on the launch of the WASH in Schools Initiative, view the invitation. To attend, please RSVP to Katie Delisio at