We might seem like an unlikely team of authors to write an opinion piece together. But we are an example of what can be achieved when people from different backgrounds unite to help promote a solution to a global issue. In this case, it's access to water and sanitation, one of the best ways to address extreme poverty and save lives.
Ending extreme poverty requires tackling the global water and sanitation crisis, a valuable investment in public health that will help protect people from diseases such as Ebola
and cholera. Doctors Without Borders explains that disease outbreaks are more likely to occur in areas where hospitals have poor infection control and limited access to running water. In West Africa, for example, this lack of access to water and basic sanitation has made responding to Ebola slower and riskier for everyone involved.
All of us agree that no child should suffer through stunting or lifelong chronic illnesses because he or she doesn't have clean drinking water. And this year, the U.S. Congress can help millions more people to stay healthy by increasing funding for water and sanitation programs.
The United States is a key global leader in funding for water and sanitation programs. In December, President Barack Obama signed the Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act
into law. The legislation was led by a bipartisan coalition and was endorsed by nearly 80 nongovernmental and faith-based organizations. The bill was passed unanimously by the 113th Congress.
Water for the World builds on our country's leadership on water and sanitation efforts. Rather than creating new programs and bureaucracy or spending any new taxpayer dollars, the Water for the World Act makes foreign assistance more efficient and effective. It ensures that programming around water and sanitation is focused on the poorest communities in the world.
But we can't stop there. Now is the time for Congress to increase funding for these programs. We need to support countries such as Indonesia, which is working to achieve universal access to water by 2019 (bringing clean drinking water to more than 40 million Indonesians). And on Saturday, Fall Out Boy will join the Global Poverty Project and Earth Day Network at Global Citizen 2015 Earth Day
on the National Mall to call on Congress to increase its funding for water and sanitation programs, as we know we cannot end extreme poverty without this support.
Although U.S. federal spending on foreign assistance amounts to less than 1% of the total U.S. budget, it contributes to our national security, benefits our economy and fulfills America's deepest moral values. U.S. investments in water and sanitation programs make the world healthier, safer and more economically viable.
We're not asking Congress to solve the situation alone. And we recognize that the United States has been a leader on numerous issues related to extreme poverty. But we are saying there is more that can be done to ensure every woman, man and child has access to clean water and sanitation.
By increasing investment in critical water and sanitation programs, the United States can continue to demonstrate its leadership abroad.
Water works. Let's make sure it's available to everyone.