U.S. Senator Bob Corker, R-Tenn., second-ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, spoke at Belmont University Monday, highlighting Tennessee-based efforts to give millions around the world access to clean water.
Corker was joined at the event at Belmont’s Inman Center by Dr. Bob Fisher, president of Belmont University; Jars of Clay, the Grammy award-winning band that has launched Blood:Water Mission, a non-profit organization promoting clean blood and water in Africa; Dave Barnes, a Nashville singer/songwriter involved with Mocha Club, an on-line community of people giving up the cost of two mochas a month, or $7, to fund relief and development projects in Africa, including clean water; and Bill Hearn, the president and CEO of EMI Christian Music Group, who is involved with Healing Waters International, a non-profit organization working to reduce water-related illness and death in developing countries.
Corker and Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., are lead sponsors of the Water for the World Act, S. 624, which sets a goal of reaching 100 million people with first-time, sustainable access to safe drinking water and sanitation by 2015.
“The needs around the world are tremendous, but our foreign aid dollars are limited. We need to make every single penny count by better focusing and coordinating our efforts and leveraging private resources like those represented here today. A lack of clean water leads to the deaths of millions of children each year, stifles economic growth, keeps women and girls from going to work and school, and has contributed to political unrest in Sudan and elsewhere. Experts tell us every $1 invested in safe drinking water and sanitation produces an $8 return in costs. I’m a fiscal conservative, and I want to see each of our foreign aid dollars go as far as possible, so for many reasons, I believe water is one of the wisest places we can invest,” said Corker.
The Water for the World Act implements recommendations made in the Center for Strategic & International Studies report, “Global Water Futures.” The bill would expand safe water and sanitation efforts in priority countries, promote research and technology development, and improve training and technical assistance to help meet the water needs of the world’s poor. It would also increase capacity and sharpens the focus at USAID (United States Agency for International Development) and the U.S. State Department to implement these activities.
Corker’s clean water efforts are garnering support from numbers in the music community, including Bono, lead singer of U2 and cofounder of the global advocacy organization ONE.
“Senator Corker’s support for clean water for the poorest people around the world shows he has a tough mind … and a big heart,” said Bono. “Corker the businessman knows for every dollar invested in clean water, eight dollars is saved in work time, productivity and health care costs in poor countries. He also knows it’s not right for more than 4,000 kids to die each day because they lack something we can get when we turn on the tap. His leadership in the Senate on clean water and other poverty-fighting initiatives, working across the aisle, should make Tennessee and America proud.”
Belmont President Dr. Bob Fisher said, “Hosting this event is an honor for Belmont University as this bill reflects the very values represented in our mission. It’s appalling to think how many people around the world don’t have access to clean drinking water, and we are pleased to be involved in this effort that will help those with such great need.”
“Jars of Clay and Blood:Water Mission are humbled to share in the good and necessary work of advocacy on behalf of people around the world who do not have access to safe water,” said Dan Haseltine, lead vocalist of Jars of Clay. “We are hopeful that this bill will be an honorable conduit of resources and a thoughtful means of mobilization both in passion and ideas to bring sustainable clean water solutions to millions of people.”
“In the Sudan, I visited wells developed for refugees of the Darfur genocide. It is hard to visit people whose circumstances have forced them in to desperate circumstances…but I also was able to see how easy and impactful these clean water solutions can be,” said singer/songwriter Dave Barnes.
“My involvement with Healing Waters International has proven to me their water treatment solutions for developing countries are achievable, sustainable, and transformational,” said Bill Hearn, President and CEO of EMI Christian Music Group. “Their model provides enduring change as every $50.00 they receive provides water for another person for life. I applaud Senator Corker on his efforts to provide safe water for those in such great need.”