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Habitat for Humanity encourages U.S. Congress to support the Water for the World Act

ATLANTA (Mar. 21, 2014) — In observance of World Water Day on March 22, Habitat for Humanity and its supporters are urging the U.S. Congress to pass the Water for the World Act.

With nearly 800 million people worldwide lacking access to safe drinking water and 2.5 billion lacking access to clean sanitation, the bipartisan Water for the World Act would build upon existing efforts by USAID and the state department to improve water, sanitation and hygiene, or WASH, programs serving low-income families around the world.

“Access to clean drinking water and adequate sanitation has long been connected to a myriad development issues, including child health, nutrition, conservation, disaster response, women’s empowerment, economic growth and education,” said Elizabeth Blake, senior vice president of advocacy, government affairs and general counsel at Habitat for Humanity International. “Given the savings in healthcare costs and economic productivity that investment in clean water and sanitation can yield, support for the Water for the World Act is both socially and fiscally responsible.”

Understanding that adequate housing requires safe and reliable access to water and sanitation, Habitat includes WASH as core components of its Housing Quality Standards. Habitat tailors its WASH solutions based on need, local context and the most appropriate and affordable options for both families and communities. These three factors — water, sanitation and hygiene — are among the most cost-effective housing investments to reduce poverty around the world. WASH also brings economic benefits ranging from $5 to $46 per each dollar invested due to increased health and productivity.

As part of its affordable housing and shelter programs, Habitat for Humanity has helped thousands of families in need of water and sanitation. Habitat’s WASH initiatives have included: low-cost and energy-free bio-sand filters in rural Tajikistan; housing improvement loans for household level connections in Vietnam; integrating WASH targets into programs in Ethiopia; community-led total sanitation strategies in Cambodia tied to school WASH groups; and community water points and sanitation facilities managed by neighborhood committees under a comprehensive slum upgrading program in Madagascar.

To learn more about the Water for the World Act and to find out how to show your support, please visit the Habitat Advocacy Action Center.

About Habitat for Humanity International
Habitat for Humanity International’s vision is a world where everyone has a decent place to live. Anchored by the conviction that housing provides a critical foundation for breaking the cycle of poverty, Habitat has helped more than 4 million people construct, rehabilitate or preserve homes since 1976. Habitat also advocates to improve access to decent and affordable shelter and supports a variety of funding models that enable families with limited resources to make needed improvements on their homes as their time and resources allow. As a nonprofit Christian housing organization, Habitat works in more than 70 countries and welcomes people of all races, religions and nationalities to partner in its mission. To learn more, donate or volunteer visit www.habitateurope.org.