Office of Water

Indonesian children wash their hands to stay healthy.
Indonesian children wash their hands to stay healthy.

Bureau for Economic Growth, Education and Environment (E3)’s Role

Achieving water security for regions, nations and individuals is one of the greatest development challenges confronting the world today. Water is a foundational element of development. By its nature, as a basic and essential resource, water considerations cut across nearly every aspect of USAID programming. Due to our commitment to the sector, in 2012, E3 established an Office of Water and a Global Water Coordinator, who collectively support a variety of stakeholders in water security. 

The Water Office supports programs and promotes integration with the Presidential Initiatives of Global Health and Feed the Future and with other development objectives such as resilience, natural resource and coastal zone management, climate change efforts, humanitarian assistance, advancing education, and gender equality efforts. Among other duties, the Global Water Coordinator is the senior Agency official responsible for coordinating the implementation of the Paul Simon Water for World Act.

USAID Strategy and Program Focus

In 2013, USAID launched its Water and Development Strategy, the first in the Agency's history. The goal of the Strategy is to save lives and advance development through improvements in water supply, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), and sound water management for food security. The strategy designates 28 priority countries (mainly in Africa and Asia) for water assistance based on greatest needs and opportunities. For example, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan, Nigeria, Liberia, and Indonesia are countries ranked in the water strategy as tier 1.

By 2018 the Strategy seeks to: improve health outcomes through sustainable WASH by providing 10 million people with sustainable access to an improved drinking water source and 6 million people with sustainable access to an improved sanitation facility. In addition USAID will manage water for agriculture sustainably and productively to enhance food security benefiting 2 million people.

In 2005, Congress passed the Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act in support of WASH as a foreign affairs priority. In 2014, this commitment was renewed through bipartisan Congressional and Presidential support to pass the Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act of 2014 that authorizes WASH programming. The key elements of the Act support more targeted, effective and sustainable investments for WASH programs. Lead sponsors of the Act included Congressmen Blumenauer and Poe, and Senators Durbin and Corker.

The Water for the World Act incorporates key portions of the Water Strategy, such as designation of priority countries. The Act also established a single point of leadership within USAID for the implementation of the statute, the Global Water Coordinator (currently held by Christian Holmes, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Water in E3).

We are committed to integrating water management across programs in agriculture and health by:

  • Expanding access to water supply and sanitation to promote better hygiene and fight preventable disease, especially to vulnerable communities;
  • Increasing water productivity in agriculture and industry to boost output while conserving a precious resource; and
  • Improving water resource management and reforming governance and regulations to equitably share access and defuse competition.


USAID has shown commitment to results in the water and sanitation sectors for several years.

  • In the past decade USAID provided safe water and sanitation to more than 50 million people, while assisting governments and private firms to plan, manage and distribute water more equitably and affordably.
  • In FY13 alone, USAID’s programs resulted in more than 3.5 million people with improved access to drinking water supply and nearly 1.3 million people with improved access to sanitation facilities.
  • Between FY 2006 to 2013, USAID has helped bring safe water to more than 34.3 million people and improved sanitation for more than 13.4 million people.

E3’s Partners

The Water Office closely collaborates with the Bureau for Food Security, Bureau for Global Health, the Global Development LAB, Regional Bureaus, priority country Missions, and other E3 offices to work towards integrated programming to achieve optimal impact for our beneficiaries.

Furthermore, we closely collaborate with a variety of private sector, international donor agencies, and NGO stakeholders including but not limited to the Coca-Cola Company, World Bank Group, Rotary International, International Water Management Institute, Millennium Water Alliance and Sanitation and Water for All.

For More Information 

Last updated: June 29, 2015

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