'People power' required to deliver water and toilets for all, new WaterAid report finds

8 Jan 2016

A new WaterAid report has warned that a lack of expert personnel, low salaries and high turnover are holding many developing countries back on efforts to deliver water and sanitation.

The new study, “Releasing the Flow,” uses the examples of South Africa, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Uganda and Mozambique to illustrate the challenges developing countries face, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, as they work to the promise of UN Global Goal 6 to deliver water and sanitation access to everyone, everywhere by 2030.

Though these countries have made good progress on access to water and sanitation, all face a struggle when it comes to human resources. Often budgets for capital expenses – taps, latrines, pipes and other hardware – far outstrip budgets for staff recruitment, training and retention, even on such essential staff as qualified engineers, water scientists, technicians, plant operators and health inspectors.

The result is high staff turnover and positions that often go unfilled, particularly in remote or rural locations. This makes it hard for countries to maintain water and sanitation systems and to make progress on new goals.

       WaterAid Senior Policy Analyst John Garrett, a lead author of the report, said:

“This research shows us that it’s simply not enough to build taps and toilets to deliver on access to water and sanitation. In Sub-Saharan Africa there are too few trained     engineers, scientists, technicians and other skilled workers in the water, sanitation and hygiene sector. If the world is to reach everyone, everywhere by 2030 with these basic rights, addressing these gaps in human resources with the necessary funding will be vital.

“WaterAid’s work includes a focus on helping governments at all levels to build sustainable water and sanitation services that will last for years to come. We call upon both donors and developing countries to reflect the need for the power of people when it comes to financing and programming for water, sanitation and hygiene services.”

To read our synthesis report, ‘Releasing the Flow,’ and accompanying case studies from South Africa, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Mozambique and Uganda, please see this link.  


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Notes to editors:

About WaterAid

WaterAid’s vision is of a world where everyone has access to safe water and sanitation.  The international organisation works in 37 countries across Africa, Asia, Central America and the Pacific Region to transform lives by improving access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation in some of the world’s poorest communities.  Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 23 million people with safe water and, since 2004, 21 million people with sanitation.  For more information, visit, follow @WaterAidUK on Twitter, or visit us on Facebook at

  • Around 315,000 children die each year from diarrhoeal diseases caused by dirty water and poor sanitation. That’s nearly 900 children each day, or one child every two minutes.
  • Over 650 million people (around one in ten) are without safe water
  • Over 2.3 billion people (around one in three) live without improved sanitation
  • For every £1 invested in water and sanitation, an average of £4 is returned in increased productivity.
  • Just £15 can help provide one person with access to safe water.