The issue explained

Not enough is being spent on taps and toilets. In particular, spending on sanitation – toilets and dealing with human waste – has lagged behind spending in other sectors for decades.

The reasons for this are many and complex, but can be best summed up by the simple fact that no-one likes talking about toilets, their benefits have been poorly understood or appreciated, and few agencies or governments have prioritised spending on sanitation in their budgets.

Yet, the evidence is compelling – investing in sanitation is one of the soundest financial investments a developing country can make. Spend on sanitation and the economic and health benefits quickly become apparent. Fewer sick days are taken, less family income is spent on medicine and visits to the doctor, girls stay on at school longer, local businesses begin to flourish and ultimately, economic activity increases.

For every dollar spent on sanitation there is a four dollar economic return.

Our approach

We campaign for more and better spending on sanitation. With your help and support, we lobby from the local government level all the way up to the UN. We will keep on talking about financing for sanitation until the world sits up and takes action.

Slowly, this is starting to happen. Governments in our region are increasing their budgets for water and sanitation. Globally, we want to see this kind of commitment from all governments and donors.

As well as more money being pumped into the sector, we also want to see it better spent. This means:

  • Better coordination between all the different agencies and donors working in the sector to reduce waste, duplication and bureaucracy.
  • Better targeting of aid to the poorest countries and the hardest to reach within these countries.
  • Greater transparency and accountability as to where and how money is spent.
  • Spending on projects that are suitable and sustainable, so money is not wasted on projects which do not last.

Read more about financing in the WaterAid report Addressing the Shortfall (PDF, 6MB).

Find out more about the issues involved in our work:

Children | Governance | Health | Hygiene | Social exclusion | Sustainability | Urban | Women