USAID Water 2023 Year in Review Advancing the Vision of a Water-Secure World

In a year plagued by climate change, geopolitical conflicts, and an uncertain global economic outlook, under the U.S. Global Water Strategy, USAID has continued to support partner countries to increase access to safe water and sanitation while sustainably managing water resources. From communities facing conflict threatening to undo hard-won development gains to those confronted by climate disasters or failed rainy seasons, USAID has continued to build and sustain local partnerships to help achieve a water-secure world for all.

Under the Strategy, USAID has committed to reaching an additional 22 million people with access to safe drinking water and 22 million people with access to sanitation by the end of 2027. Over the past year, as a result of U.S. government assistance, 5.2 million people gained access to drinking water services and 4 million people gained access to sanitation services.

Keep reading to learn more about USAID’s efforts to advance water security, sanitation, and hygiene throughout 2023.

Rolling out Global Water Strategy High-Priority Country plans

As part of the Global Water Strategy, USAID announced a list of 22 High-Priority Countries which will serve as the primary focus of the U.S. government’s investments to build a water-secure world.

Throughout 2023, USAID Missions in high-priority countries structured high-level events with Ambassadors, Mission Directors, and host country government officials to celebrate the release of multi-year, country-specific plans, which describe how USAID will implement the Strategy in that country. These High-Priority Country Plans represent a coordinated approach to address water and sanitation, align with host-country priorities, and complement programs by other U.S. government departments and agencies.

A once-in-a-generation commitment to global water security

In March, USAID joined other U.S. government agencies, water experts, and advocates from around the world at the United Nations 2023 Water Conference to mobilize international cooperation and new financial commitments to reach water and sanitation access for all by 2030.

Leading the USAID delegation, Maura Barry, then-Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator in the Bureau for Resilience, Environment, and Food Security and Global Water Coordinator, announced a commitment by USAID to invest $700 million across the 22 Global Water Strategy high-priority countries over the next three years to help people and countries access the water they need to be prosperous, stable, and resilient.

At the last United Nations Water Conference in 1977, only 11 women were part of the U.S. government delegation of over 100, while in 2023, all U.S. departments and agencies were led by female delegates.

Honoring Water Warriors

On World Water Day, March 22, USAID announced its 2023 Water Warriors – USAID staff that are leading the Agency’s work toward a water secure world: Pragya Shrestha, USAID/Nepal, and Francis Mtitu, USAID/Tanzania. Both Pragya and Francis lead programming in two of USAID’s Global Water Strategy High-Priority Countries. They embody the very best of the Agency’s values as they work tirelessly to ensure access to water and sanitation for their home countries.

Launching seven new flagship water sector activities

Under the updated U.S. Global Water Strategy, USAID is doubling down on its commitment to increase access to sustainable water and sanitation in its High-Priority Countries. In 2023, USAID Missions in Ethiopia, Senegal, Uganda, Madagascar, and beyond launched innovative flagship activities to expand access to services and improve water resources management.

Learn more about USAID’s new water activities:

Celebrating the impact of key WASH activities around the globe

In Madagascar, the Rural Access to New Opportunities for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (RANO WASH) activity, which ran from 2018 to 2023, exceeded its life of project target to increase access to clean water for 600,000 vulnerable people, including girls, women, and people with disabilities. Thanks to the activity, more than 740,000 people have improved access to sanitation (basic and limited) and 85 municipalities have been certified open defecation free, ensuring cleaner environments and protecting health and dignity

In Uganda, from 2018 to 2023, the Uganda Sanitation for Health Activity (USHA) worked to improve access to safe and sustainable water, sanitation, and hygiene services in 20 districts across three regions. Among other things, USHA coordinated with national and local governments, community-based and civil society organizations, and the private sector to pilot market-based sanitation approaches to stimulate demand for improved toilets, strengthen business services to market and diversify sanitation product options, and enhance local sanitation supply chains. In total, 137,969 households invested in basic sanitation (newly constructed or upgraded toilets) through a variety of delivery models.

In Guatemala, the Local Governance Project (Nexos Locales), which ended in June 2023, increased the capacity of municipal governments to raise revenue, respond to citizen concerns, and improve public financial management. The activity supported municipalities’ revenue generation and water plan development, enabling them to make sustainable investments in their water systems. With the support of the project, communities in the Guatemalan Western Highlands have invested $1.2 million in their water systems, benefiting 416,000 citizens. Additionally, nearly 500 rural communities have developed water chlorination systems, benefiting 315,440 people.

Supporting the maintenance of essential services in Ukraine

USAID continues to work with Ukraine’s courageous water professionals to maintain essential services and help the country recover from Russia’s ruthless attacks.

In 2023, USAID and humanitarian partners lead efforts to ensure continued operations of critical water utilities. These efforts include supporting the rehabilitation of water infrastructure facilities destroyed by Russian bombs and the provision of power equipment to keep power, water, and heat flowing to Ukrainians.

USAID humanitarian assistance helped provide access to safe drinking water and hygiene support to more than 3.3 million people across Ukraine.

View the winners of the first annual Water-Secure World Photo Contest!

These photos document ways in which USAID is supporting sustainable and equitable water resources management and access to safe drinking water and sanitation services and hygiene practices around the world and celebrate our partners and the communities where we work.

Your favorite blog of the year!

From empowering girls to stay in school to breaking the silence about menstruation and ensuring equitable access to menstrual hygiene products, throughout 2023 USAID continued to to double down efforts to ensure individuals have what they need to manage their menstruation safely and with dignity. Thanks to USAID’s water and sanitation investments under the U.S. Global Water Strategy, improvements are being made to menstrual health and hygiene around the world.

Our continued impact

Throughout the year, USAID continued to respond to challenges posed by climate change, geopolitical conflicts, and an uncertain global economic outlook by working with partners across the U.S. government and around the world to lay the foundation for a water-secure future.

As we look ahead, USAID is excited for what 2024 will have in store, including the upcoming release of the 2023 Global Water Strategy Annual Report and celebration of the ten year anniversary of the Water for the World Act.

Photo Credits

Header image: Razaka Rafenomanana Dahery, RANOWASH Project

Photo grid (top left): USAID

Photo grid (top right): USAID/Indonesia

Photo grid (bottom left): USAID/Kenya

Photo grid (bottom right): USAID Urban WASH

Image 1: USAID

Image 2: Photos courtesy of Pragya Shrestha and Francis Mtitu

Image 3: USAID Urban WASH

Image 4: Dorothy Nabatanzi

Image 5: USAID

Image 6: Feed the Future Bangladesh Nutrition Activity, Abt Associates Inc.

Image 7: Daniel W. Smith, USAID