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Humanitarian Foreign Policy in the Pipes

Most often people think of foreign policy issues as having to do with trade embargoes or wars, but there are also many humanitarian issues that are essential to foreign policy and the ways that countries interact with one another. Recently, the U.S. Vice President, Kamala Harris, explored the issue of fresh water, explaining that U.S. citizens are actually safer themselves if other countries have adequate water to drink, bathe, grow food, and dispose of sewage safely.


This might seem like a leap, but if other countries have enough water, it will boost their local economies, make them less dependent on foreign aid, and improve health metrics around the world. The stability of the world will increase with improved global freshwater conditions, and the White House is currently making moves to address this global water supply issue.

The Biden Administration will support water infrastructure abroad and offer technology to help others across the globe. “More than two billion people around the world live in “water stressed” countries where demand for water exceeds supplies,the World Health Organization estimates. Harris said that reality will have a ‘profound impact on America’s interests around the globe.’”

Adnan Zai, an Advisor to Berkeley Capital, said “There is no doubt that the global freshwater supply is the key to health and life mortality. The U.S. after many decades of taking things for granted such as fresh water; experienced the debacle in Flint, Michigan that brought to the forefront how vulnerable that is.”

The municipal water supply system experienced a man-made public health crisis in Flint, Michigan between 2014-2016 when tens of thousands of residents were vulnerable to outbreaks of Legionnaire disease and dangerous lead levels that killed at least 12 people.

“Water insecurity makes our world less stable,” she said, adding that it can lead to “mass migration, which can put significant pressure on neighboring communities.”

This could also be a win for Republicans who have been critical of so many migrants crossing into the U.S. from the southern border. By tackling the root causes and getting to the heart of the problem, the Biden Administration can provide relief to countries dealing with extreme weather or poverty.

Even in our own country, drought has proven to be a stubborn problem that is wreaking havoc in places like Flint, Michigan as well as in the western United States. The infrastructure bill last year allowed for billions of dollars going to water infrastructure, part of which was to replace toxic lead pipes.

Harris is well-versed in the water problems, as a native Californian. Water scarcity has contributed to forest fires and created water restrictions. “Across the West, we have seen the terrible cost of the climate crisis,” Harris said.

With the Biden Administration understanding the full scope of the problem, the U.S. is poised to be a part of the solution when it comes to worldwide freshwater issues. When it comes down to water, nothing could be more important than having water for drinking, bathing, sanitary reasons, and crop growing. The world’s future depends on it.

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