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World Water Day highlights need for clean water, sanitation in developing world

Friday, March 22 is the United Nations World Water Day, held annually to raise awareness of the importance of fresh water and advocate for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.  Each year a specific aspect of water management is highlighted. In 2013, in reflection of the International Year of Water Cooperation, World Water Day is dedicated to the theme of cooperation around water. The U.N. sees water cooperation as key to security, poverty eradication, social equity and gender equality. Today, 780 million people do not have access to clean water and almost 2.5 billion do not have access to adequate sanitation.

In recent years, OPIC has made renewable resources one of its investment priorities, and as part of that priority, the agency has worked to increase its focus on clean water. OPIC-supported clean water projects include one to modernize the water system in Ghana, where there is a severe shortage of clean water for drinking and agriculture, and another to construct a series of small water treatment facilities in India, where there is limited access to safe drinking water. In India’s Punjab state, Healthpoint Services Global India Ltd., an affiliate of the U.S. company Healthpoint Global Services Inc., will enable 400 communities to have access to clean drinking water free of waterborne diseases and excessive fluoride, which causes stiff joints.

OPIC’s focus on clean water and sustainable agriculture, has helped the agency grow its total renewable resources commitments to $1.55 billion in fiscal year 2012, up 41 percent from the year before. OPIC, along with several other U.S. Government agencies, supports the U.S. Water Partnership. This public-private partnership was established last year to unite American expertise, knowledge and resources, and mobilize those assets to address water challenges around the globe, especially in the developing world.

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