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Supporting the Goals and Ideals of the International Year of Sanitation

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of House Concurrent Resolution 318, authored by my good friend from New Jersey (Mr. Payne).

Lack of access to clean drinking water and sanitation are indeed some of the most pressing environmental public health issues in the world. Today, an estimated 2.6 billion people, including almost 1 billion children, live without access to basic sanitation facilities. Every 20 seconds, a child dies as a direct result.

In fact, it is estimated that nearly half the developing world suffers from preventable diseases associated with the lack of access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene. Without sufficient access to these services, countries, communities and families become susceptible to and are often defenseless against life-threatening diseases and infections which perpetuate this horrible cycle of poverty.

As this resolution notes, sanitation improves health. It saves lives. It protects the environment. It improves economies. And it contributes to human dignity and social development. It is imperative that the United States and the international community work together to achieve the goals of the Millennium Development Account and significantly reduce the number of people suffering from a lack of sanitation and clean water.

Another pressing issue is one that underscores the potentially grave future that we may face if we don't immediately address rising energy costs and find alternative sources of energy to carry out our daily tasks, some critical tasks such as the energy required to filter our water supply. This resolution also reminds us, however, that necessity is the mother of invention, and that human beings have the potential to achieve any task necessary to improve living conditions.

How does it remind us of this? In Africa, for example, where there are areas that lack consistent and dependable sources of oil to produce electricity, they must develop and rely on alternative methods, sometimes primitive ones, such as fire for boiling water to avoid disease. Again, in the most remote region of the world, we are thinking of alternative sources and alternative methods. We here must also think and seek alternative clean energy. Will we wait until circumstances are so dire that American will be forced to boil their water in their backyards to conserve the little energy available because we failed to develop alternative sources today?

Just as we seek to foster ingenuity in the developing world to provide greater access to clean drinking water and basic sanitation in resource-poor settings, we must foster such ingenuity in our own energy sector.

I thank Chairman Payne for introducing this timely resolution which highlights the important issues of clean water, sanitation and hygiene. And I urge my colleagues to fully support House Concurrent Resolution 318.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

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