During a tumultuous 2020 that witnessed the emergence of the most deadly pandemic to sweep the globe in more than 100 years, USAID and partners have proven flexible and resilient in delivering safe water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) to the world’s most underserved and at-risk populations. Recognizing the importance of good handwashing hygiene and uninterrupted water service in containing the spread of COVID-19 and safely reopening economies, the Agency went above and beyond throughout the year to ensure that communities across the globe had the necessary information, strategic guidance, and WASH services they needed to protect themselves.
But the story of USAID’s WASH programming achievements cannot be viewed solely through the lens of COVID-19. This past year, the Agency expanded its evidence base to inform and strengthen current and future WASH programming. We released an expansive Water and Development Technical Brief Series and completed the research on a series of Ex-Post Evaluations that turned a critical eye toward long-closed WASH activities and examined the reasons why some interventions proved sustainable — and why some did not.
As we continue to learn, we also reflect on what has proven so impactful to date: USAID support since FY 2008 helped more than 53 million people gain access to sustainable water services, and 38 million people gain access to sustainable sanitation services. But our work is far from done. Between FY 2018 and 2019 alone, the Agency provided $835 million to support WASH activities in more than 50 countries. This year, USAID continued to make progress toward achieving its key development objectives under the U.S. Government Global Water Strategy. To accelerate our progress, we launched a private sector partnership with the global sanitation company LIXIL to help scale-up and speed access to affordable, sustainable WASH solutions around the world.
The Agency and its many partners have been busy harnessing the incredible power of WASH to enhance the quality of life, build more resilient and self-reliant communities, and create a healthier, more livable world for all, while protecting the environment.
By Russell Sticklor of the USAID Water Communications and Knowledge Management Project