Aid for water, sanitation and hygiene saves lives

The Independent Commission for Aid Impact has given the Department for International Development a green/amber rating for aid for water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). WaterAid has responded with a reminder that WASH is among the most effective uses of overseas aid.

24 May 2016

Water, sanitation and hygiene programming are among the most effective uses of overseas development aid, delivering at least £4 in increased productivity for every £1 spent, WaterAid said in response to an analysis of aid for water, sanitation and hygiene programmes.

The Independent Commission for Aid Impact has today released its analysis of the Department for International Development’s (DFID’s) aid for water, sanitation and hygiene. The green/amber rating shows the programme is generally effective; the commission has recommended that in future, DFID focus on sustainability alongside increasing access to water, sanitation and hygiene.

The Department for International Development has spent an average 1.6% of the total bilateral overseas development aid budget on this essential issue, or about £200 million annually. WaterAid has called for this percentage to increase, which would support the implementation of the report’s recommendations. The lack of water, sanitation and hygiene is estimated to cost Sub-Saharan African countries more in lost GDP than the entire continent gets in development aid.

WaterAid Chief Executive Barbara Frost said:

“This report shows that aid for clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene saves lives. Some 315,000 children under five die each year from diarrhoea linked to dirty water and poor sanitation. Safe water and sanitation are human rights and, along with hygiene, they improve health and productivity, help keep girls in school, and can save the lives of new mothers and their newborns who might otherwise die of infections from being born in an unhygienic environment.

“Delivering programmes with lasting results is a key focus for WaterAid – we work at all levels to ensure political priority, budget and training for skilled staff, so that water, sanitation and hygiene programmes last long into the future.”

WaterAid’s sustainability framework is cited by ICAI as a positive example of ensuring services last well into the future.

WaterAid works with governments at all levels to ensure budgets are allocated for ongoing water and sanitation programming and maintenance, including salaries for skilled workers to ensure breakdowns are quickly fixed. We work to promote good hygiene and to change behaviours so that the health benefits of clean water, safe private toilets and good hygiene including handwashing with soap continue. WaterAid also uses new technologies to monitor programme effectiveness for up to 10 years.

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About WaterAid

Notes to Editors

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 follow @WaterAidUK on Twitter, or visit us on Facebook.

  • 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.