Last week,Congressman Blumenauer convened a forum of community leaders, advocates, and the broader public to discuss our global water crisis and highlight the many organizations in the region who are working to solve this issue.
The evening began with an informational fair, as about 200 people crowded into the Mercy Corps Action Center to learn from a host of organizations about how they can be more involved. Representatives from MercyCorps, Riverdale High School, Oregon State University, Living Water International, Engineers Without Borders, Green Empowerment, Portland State University’s SWEET Lab, CARE/Every Mother Counts, ONE.org, and Medical Teams International participated in the fair.
Following the information fair, the program kicked off with introductions from Jeremy Barnicle from Mercy Corps and Pastor Rick McKinley of Imago Dei Church, who has worked on global water issues with the Portland Christian community. Blumenauer then praised the bipartisan support in Congress for his Water for the World Act, which would which would build on earlier legislation he passed, the Water for the Poor Act, by refining its provisions, focusing clean drinking water and sanitation U.S. foreign aid spending, and ensuring aid dollars are only allocated to those projects capable of providing lasting benefits to the poorest of the poor. He noted that “there is no investment by the federal government that has more impact for the lives and livelihood of people around the globe.” There is still work to be done, he said, but “it is the people in this room who will do it.”
After Blumenauerspoke, a panel of experts talked about their efforts to solve the water crisis. Questions from the crowd ranged from the scientific, about engineering solutions to sinking water tables, to the political, about the dangers of well intentioned development work that all too often fails to be sustainable over the long-term.
The evening also honored a local water leader, Riverdale High’s Laurie LePore. Ms. LePore has been teaching her H2O for Life class at Riverdale for four years, inspiring the next generation of global water activists. Students in the class fundraise to build wells for schools in the developing world, as well as raise awareness of water health and access issues in the Pacific Northwest and around the globe. Ms. LePore, flanked by her students, thanked her parents and said she looked forward to many more years of success.
To find out more information about Congressman Blumenauer’s Water for the World legislation, click here.