Half as much aid goes to sanitation than water within the sector

Aid to water and sanitation

Source: OECD CRS[1]

The year 2015 marks the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). The MDG target of halving the proportion of the population without access to improved water sources by 2015 was met, but 748 million people (10% of the global population) remain without access.[2] In addition, the sanitation MDG target of halving the proportion of the population without access to improved sanitation facilities by 2015[3] was not met. Globally, 2.5 billion people (40% of the population) remain without access to improved sanitation facilities.[4]

Since 2010, data on aid flows to the water and sanitation sector can be broken down into aid to water-only projects and aid to sanitation only.[5] For both water and sanitation, aid to basic supply and aid to large systems can be tracked.[6] This has improved the monitoring of resources available to meet the MDG targets.

A total of US$1.9 billion of aid to water and sanitation could be disaggregated between water and sanitation spending in 2013. Of this, aid to water received two thirds (65%). A large share went to large water systems (43%), while basic water received just over a fifth (22%). Aid to sanitation represented just a third of aid to the sector that can be disaggregated (35%). Basic sanitation received the least at 7%, while aid to large sanitation systems was 28%.

These 2013 figures are in line with overall trends since 2010. However, recent growth figures indicate a strong increase in large-scale sanitation support. Aid volumes to large-scale sanitation systems nearly doubled (182%) between 2010 and 2013, while aid to basic sanitation showed only small increases of about a quarter (26%) over the same time.

The share of aid going to water and sanitation has recently declined to less than 4% of all aid. In order to meet the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target of universal access to improved sanitation facilities, investments in sanitation need to be scaled up, particularly given that current levels of finance were not sufficient for the world to meet the MDG sanitation target.

For more information see the WaterAid report 2015: Essential element: why international aid for water, sanitation and hygiene is still a critical source of finance for many countries, which is based on analysis by Development Initiatives.

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Cover photo: Catarina and her granddaughters collect unsafe water, Cuvir Rainha, Niassa, Mozambique. Credit: WaterAid/ Panos/ Adam Patterson.



[1] The OECD DAC Creditor Reporting System (CRS) is the main source of data for this analysis. All figures on financial flows are in 2012 prices. Data refers to gross disbursements from all donors. Unlike net ODA, gross ODA disbursements do not take into account ODA loan repayments from recipient countries. Disbursements correspond to the release of funds or the purchase of goods or services for a recipient.

[2] The World Health Organization (WHO)/United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Joint Monitoring Program (JMP) defines an improved drinking-water source as one that, by nature of its construction or through active intervention, is protected from outside contamination, in particular from contamination with faecal matter. ‘Improved’ sources of drinking water include: Piped water into dwelling; piped water to yard/plot; public tap or standpipe; tube well or borehole; protected dug well; protected spring and rainwater.

[3] For MDG monitoring, JMP defines an improved sanitation facility can be: a flush toilet; piped sewer system; septic tank; flush/pour flush to pit latrine; ventilated improved pit latrine (VIP); pit latrine with slab; or composting toilet.

[4] WaterAid (2015) report: Essential element: why international aid for water, sanitation and hygiene is still a critical source of finance for many countries.

[5] See Guidance for the use of Water Supply and Sanitation Purpose Codes notes by OECD

[6] This presents some challenges, in particular that improved donor reporting under these purpose codes may skew growth analysis. The ability of donors to disaggregate reporting using these purpose codes depends on their internal management information and reporting systems.