Our "Photo of the Week" comes to us from Elizabeth Petrovski at the U.S. Mission to the UN Agencies in Rome, Italy. Elizabeth recently had the opportunity to visit Kenya, where she observed projects run by the World Food Program (WFP) and its cooperating partner, the Kenya Child Fund, in the northeastern district of Turkana. In the photograph, Turkana women sing and dance as they build a trapezoidal bund, an instrument along with water pans that Kenyan herders and farmers use to collect and preserve rainwater for human and livestock consumption and crop irrigation in areas regularly impacted by droughts.
Water issues are integral to many U.S. foreign policy goals, from advancing food security to empowering women and girls. In recognition of World Water Day on March 22, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced the U.S. Water Partnership, a U.S.-based public-private partnership (PPP) established to unite expertise, knowledge, and resources, and mobilize those assets to address water challenges around the globe. In her remarks, Secretary Clinton said:
"...When nearly 2 million people die each year from preventable waterborne disease, clean water is critical if we're going to be talking about achieving our global health goals. Something as simple as better access to water and sanitation can improve the quality of life and reduce the disease burden for billions of people. When women and girls don't have to spend 200 million hours a day...seeking water, maybe they can go to school, maybe they can have more opportunities to help bring income in to the family. Reliable access to water is essential for feeding the hungry, running the industries that promote jobs, generating the energy that fuels national growth, and certainly, it is central when we think about how climate change will affect future generations.
"Now, we are pursuing this not only because we care about it around the world; we care about it here at home. We've had increasing problems meeting our own needs in the Desert Southwest or managing floods in the East. No country anywhere, no matter how developed, is immune to [these] challenges."
The U.S. Department of State, in coordination with partnering U.S. governmental agencies, has made water issues a foreign policy priority. You can learn more here.