Development aid for water and sanitation continues to rise – sustainability and equity neglected.
UN GLAAS Report
The UN GLAAS Report recently released by the WHO provides a global update on policy frameworks, institutional arrangements, human resource base and international and national finance streams in support of extending and sustaining water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) systems and services. The report acknowledges that despite the severe financial crisis in major donor countries aid for water and sanitation continues to rise by 3% from 2008 to 2010 to US$ 7.8 billion. The fraction of aid going to basic sanitation and drinking-water systems has increased from 16% (2008) to 26% (2010), but most of the aid (53%) still goes into large systems.
Especially for sanitation human and financial resource constraints (only 1/3 of the aid goes to sanitation) are impeding progress and only 7% goes into the maintenance of WASH services and assets undermining the sustainability of existing services. Sanitation and hygiene projects in the rural regions of Sub Saharan Africa, Southern Asia and South East Asia (where 70% of the global population without access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation live) do not receive the financial priority they should and even though most countries recognise the right to water and sanitation, no equity criteria have been established to target the most vulnerable groups in the allocation of financing for water and sanitation.
Given Helvetas’ long-standing experience working in rural areas and with vulnerable and excluded groups, the GLAAS report can be used to urge decision makers to redirect more WASH development aid towards sanitation and hygiene projects in the rural regions, to advocate for implementing meaningful equity criteria to target the poor and vulnerable, and to improve the gender equality among the local WASH staff. Furthermore more resources should be dedicated to the operation and maintenance of existing water and sanitation services and hygiene promotion should receive a greater share of the resources for WASH projects.