On World Water Day international aid is still failing to reach most in need

Our new briefing paper Bridging the divide reveals that international water and sanitation aid is failing to reach the poorest, most marginalised people. In fact, it is exacerbating global inequalities rather than reducing them.

21 Mar 2014

To mark World Water Day (22 March 2014) WaterAid has published a startling new briefing paper. Bridging the divide reveals that just eight of the world’s 48 poorest nations have been among the top ten recipients of water and sanitation aid in any of the last six years.

  • Jordan – despite having over 90% access to both water and sanitation – receives US$855 in water and sanitation aid for each person lacking access.
  • At the other end of the scale, for each person lacking access, Ethiopia receives just $1.56, the Democratic Republic of Congo just $0.80, and Madagascar only $0.42.

Despite its fundamental importance, most donors give relatively low priority to water, sanitation and hygiene aid, accounting in 2012 for just 6% of overall aid.

Much of the aid that is promised is never delivered. Over the past decade, donors have failed to pass on a third of the money they pledged to spend on water and sanitation aid – that’s US$27.6 billion out of US$81.2 billion since 2002.

WaterAid’s Chief Executive Barbara Frost commented:

If the world’s promises on aid were met then the enormous difference between what has been committed and what has actually been spent could have helped transform the lives of millions of people around the world with access to clean drinking water and basic sanitation. But just meeting existing commitments is not enough. Overall aid flows for water and sanitation need to double to create the step change in access to these essential services.

Our report comes ahead of crucial discussions at the World Bank in Washington DC on 10-11 April where the Sanitation and Water for All partnership will hold its third High Level Meeting. Ministers from both developing and donor countries will meet to discuss the water and sanitation crisis that costs developing country economies $260 billion per year.

WaterAid is calling for a dedicated goal on universal access to water and sanitation, as part of the new global post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals so that everyone, everywhere has access to these life-changing basics by 2030.

Read the Bridging the divide report >

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