Need for urgent action as new report shows funding for water, sanitation and hygiene falling at alarming rate

May 26, 2023
Delwar Hossain (44) is visiting a community wash point for cleaning himself and his equipment. City Polli, Dhalpur, Dhaka. September 13, 2021.
Image: WaterAid/ DRIK/ Habibul Haque

Figures analyzed by international charity WaterAid have shown the extent to which donor funding has declined globally for critical projects safeguarding water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). This means the world’s poorest are being impacted most by the shortfall.

WASH funding has decreased by a third since 2015 – the year in which the Sustainable Development Goals were agreed.  In fact, in the first two years of the Covid-19 pandemic, aid targeted specifically at improving water supply and sanitation globally fell more sharply than almost all other sectors, despite its importance in controlling infection. This puts the world at greater risk of the spread of Antimicrobial Resistance or ‘superbugs’, or even another pandemic.

Just 0.6% of aid for health had a strong WASH component between 2015 and 2021. This is potentially devastating. WASH-focused programmes, when successfully implemented, make real inroads into achieving each of the 17 SDGs by 2030, and so the decline in funding directly impacts these targets, as well as communities’ abilities to withstand the worst impacts of climate change.

This shows that investing in WASH is a quick win for the most vulnerable communities, profoundly impacting both climate and health-related challenges. This cannot continue to be overlooked or ignored by the world’s donors, says WaterAid.

Tim Wainwright, Chief Executive of WaterAid UK, said:

A number of multilateral meetings are taking place this month. This includes the World Health Assembly in Geneva and the G7 Leaders Summit in Japan.  It is commendable that the G7 leaders mentioned the importance of WASH in their communique at the weekend but the impacts of the decline in WASH funding should be further highlighted and discussed. WaterAid is calling for these cuts to be reversed and increased to better protect the world’s most vulnerable communities.”

Read the full report here.


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Notes to Editors:


WaterAid is working to make clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene normal for everyone, everywhere within a generation. The international not-for-profit organization works in 27 countries to change the lives of the poorest and most marginalized people. Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 28 million people with clean water and 29 million people with decent toilets.