About the Author: Maria Otero serves as Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs. Under Secretary Otero has worked for the last year responding to the Secretary's call to elevate water issues in the U.S. foreign policy agenda and on the global stage.
A particular highlight of this week for me was meeting a group of Pakistani water experts who are visiting the United States this month as part of the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) organized by the State Department. During their two-week stay, these five local practitioners will meet with federal, state, and local officials and experts to study water supply and management techniques in Washington DC, New Orleans, Louisiana and Sacramento, California.
The International Visitor Leadership Program brings young professionals and leaders from around the world to the United States for short-term visits to focus on particular areas of study. Since its inception in 1940, thousands of distinguished individuals have participated in the program, including more than 320 current and former Chiefs of State and Heads of Government and many other important leaders from the public and private sectors. Visitors experience the United States firsthand and are able to meet Americans face to face.
Building people-to-people connections like these are critical to our work and are a very rewarding part of my job. The idea of inviting this group of Pakistanis first came about earlier this year during our previous Water Working Group discussions of the U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue in Islamabad.
Now, just a few months later, we are holding the third session of the U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue here in Washington. As the Chair of the Water Working Group, I was happy to welcome these visitors to our meeting. They were able to provide an on-the-ground, real-time view of the challenges Pakistan faces in water management and point out where opportunities for collaboration exist. This helped inform our discussions with Pakistani officials, which ranged from cooperation on water projects and programs to Pakistan's national water policy.
And, in turn, I hope these visitors' experiences in Washington, New Orleans, and Sacramento will help them in their work in Pakistan as they seek to overcome the challenges posed by the devastating floods earlier this year. The Pakistani people have demonstrated amazing resilience. These five Pakistanis showcase that resilience as they focus on improving water management in their country.