Harris calls water security a foreign policy priority

Jun 1, 2022, 11:39 AM | Updated: 12:10 pm
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris arrive to lay a wreath at The Tomb of the Unkn...

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris arrive to lay a wreath at The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day, Monday, May 30, 2022, in Arlington, Va. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice President Kamala Harris said Wednesday the U.S. is safer if people in other countries have sufficient water to drink, grow food and safely dispose of sewage, emphasizing that water access is a foreign policy priority.

Harris said making sure that every country has enough water will prevent conflicts, improve health outcomes and boost local economies. Working towards those goals will make the world more stable and secure, according to a newly released White House plan to address issues facing global water supplies and quality.

The Biden administration said it will support investments in water infrastructure abroad and provide technical expertise to help other countries manage their water resources.

More than two billion people around the world live in “water stressed” countries where demand for water exceeds supplies, the World Health Organization estimates. Harris said that reality will have a “profound impact on America’s interests around the globe.”

“Water insecurity makes our world less stable,” she said, adding that it can lead to “mass migration, which can put significant pressure on neighboring communities.”

Republicans have criticized the Biden administration over the number of migrants arriving at the Southern border. Harris has frequently said tackling migration requires addressing “root causes,” and previously proposed providing short-term relief to some Central American countries dealing with extreme weather events.

Wednesday’s plan states that gaps in access to basic sanitation in Central America “contribute to inequality, drive migration, and foment civil unrest.”

Climate change will increase temperatures and drive extreme weather, making water access in some regions worse. So far, the world has made modest, uneven progress towards improving sanitation and drinking water services, the White House said.

Inadequate water access has the most effect on women, who need water for menstrual hygiene and are often responsible for transporting water, the plan said.

The WHO estimates that 2 billion people worldwide drink from a water source contaminated with feces, which can cause diarrhea and other diseases. The problem kills an estimated 485,000 people a year, according to the organization.

U.S. Agency for International Development administrator Samantha Power said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has deprived millions in that country of clean water.

“Some leaders are taking advantage of water insecurity and actually wielding it as a weapon of war,” said Power, who also spoke at the event.

The White House said it would use existing resources to implement the plan, but was thin on specifics about how deadlines or goals would be met. Those goals include improving clean water access without increasing greenhouse gas emissions, helping other countries sustainably manage resources, and getting international organizations to address water security issues.

Harris spoke at the White House alongside Power and Kathleen Hicks, deputy secretary at the Department of Defense. Other speakers included Alice Albright, CEO of the Millennium Challenge Corporation and the daughter of former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

“Many of our most fundamental national security interests depend on water security,” Harris said.

The Biden administration also released a one-year report on its efforts to combat drought, a significant, stubborn problem impacting much of the western United States. Harris said the infrastructure bill passed last year directed billions toward water infrastructure, including the replacement of toxic lead pipes.

Harris’ home state of California has been especially hard hit by dry conditions. Less water has increased the risk of wildfires and forced water restrictions on millions of Californians.

“Across the West, we have seen the terrible cost of the climate crisis,” Harris said.

___

Phillis reported from St. Louis.

___

The Associated Press receives support from the Walton Family Foundation for coverage of water and environmental policy. The AP is solely responsible for all content. For all of AP’s environmental coverage, visit https://apnews.com/hub/environment

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

World Bank agrees $500m to help Egypt fund wheat purchases

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt will receive a $500 million loan from the World Bank to help finance its wheat purchases as prices skyrocket because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Bank said Wednesday. The funds, approved Tuesday by the World Bank Board of Executive Directors, aim at supporting Egypt’s efforts to provide subsidized bread […]
6 hours ago
FILE - People walk past a currency exchange office screen displaying the exchange rates of U.S. Dol...
Associated Press

Strong ruble could hurt Russian businesses, official warns

MOSCOW (AP) — As the ruble strengthens to levels not seen in seven years, Russia’s minister of economic development warned Wednesday that the country’s businesses could suffer if the trend persists. The ruble hit all-time lows in the first weeks after Russia sent troops into Ukraine in late February, dropping as much as 50%, to […]
6 hours ago
FILE Cancer Campaigner Deborah James, left and Steve Bland pose for a photo with the award for Best...
Associated Press

Deborah James, UK cancer research campaigner, dies at 40

LONDON (AP) — Deborah James, a British broadcaster who raised millions for cancer research and was recognized by Prince William for her work, has died. She was 40. James hosted a BBC podcast called “You, Me and The Big C” in which she spoke in a no-nonsense approach about living with bowel cancer. Her candid […]
6 hours ago
FILE - A truck drives past cases of beer at the Budejovicky Budvar brewery in Ceske Budejovice, Cze...
Associated Press

Czech brewer Budvar again increases net profit amid pandemic

PRAGUE (AP) — Budvar, the Czech brewer that has been in a long legal dispute with U.S. beer giant Anheuser-Busch over use of the Budweiser brand, increased its net profit by some 10% for the second straight year as it saw record output and exports despite the coronavirus pandemic. Budejovicky Budvar NP, a 126-year-old state-owned […]
6 hours ago
FILE - John Wood, committee investigative staff counsel, for the House select committee investigati...
Associated Press

Lawyer who left Jan. 6 panel seeking Missouri US Senate seat

ST. LOUIS (AP) — An attorney who held key roles in the George W. Bush administration and who left his post last week as a senior investigator for the U.S. House committee probing the Jan. 6 insurrection said Wednesday he is running for a Missouri U.S. Senate seat as an independent. John F. Wood announced […]
6 hours ago
FILE - John Wood, committee investigative staff counsel, for the House select committee investigati...
Sponsored Content by

ST. LOUIS (AP) — An attorney who held key roles in the George W. Bush administration and who left his post last week as a senior investigator for the U.S. House committee probing the Jan. 6 insurrection said Wednesday he is running for a Missouri U.S. Senate seat as an independent. John F. Wood announced […]

Sponsored Articles

(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Most plumbing problems can be fixed with regular maintenance

Instead of waiting for a problem to happen, experts suggest getting a head start on your plumbing maintenance.
...
Christina O’Haver

BE FAST to spot a stroke

Every 40 seconds—that’s how often someone has a stroke in the United States. It’s the fifth leading cause of death among Americans, with someone dying of a stroke every 3.5 minutes.
Harris calls water security a foreign policy priority