To reach everyone, everywhere with clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene by 2030, major improvements are needed in financing these basic human rights.

Clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene are needed for people to break free from poverty, unlock their potential, and change their lives for good. Yet in many of the countries where we work, these essentials are under-prioritised and under-resourced. The scarce funds that are available are often not used to maximum effect. To reach everyone, everywhere with these basic human rights by 2030, we need major improvements in resourcing them.

For the developing countries that are off track to achieve their water and sanitation goals, the situation is often a vicious cycle. Poverty and poor access combine with low political priority and government spending, leading to a weak sector, which in turn deters potential investment.

To help break the cycle, we use our experience of delivering clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene to poor communities, and our knowledge of the sector, to secure more and better finance. Achieving this is a crucial step along the path to help individuals, communities and whole countries thrive.

Mobilising Nigeria's extractive industries to fund WASH

A new report by WaterAid and Oxford Policy Management focuses on Nigeria’s extractive industries sector, and considers how the country can better mobilise its domestic resources to provide sustainable funding for meeting citizens’ rights to water and sanitation.

The commissioning ceremony of the WaterAid-supported handpump fitted borehole and VIP latrines, as part of the HSBC Water Programme in Benue state, Nigeria. WaterAid/Andrew Esiebo

Our approach

We work to increase resources for clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene, and ensure they are better targeted. We carry out research and advocacy, and work with civil society to hold service providers, governments and donors to account.

There are three major sources of finance – the 'three Ts’:

  • Taxes, from individuals and businesses
  • Transfers, such as overseas aid, remittances or market interest rate lending
  • Tariffs, paid by households, businesses and governments

A crucial part of planning and resourcing for water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) is ensuring these taxes, transfers and tariffs are used effectively. But it is often difficult to get an accurate and comprehensive picture of these different funding sources. So we first carry out research to get a better understanding of current spending and investment, analyse strengths and weaknesses, and consider how the available funding measures up against the resourcing needs.

We then work with donors and governments to address the gaps in funding and advise them on the best areas to target the available funds. We support service providers to ensure their services are available to all, including the poorest and most marginalised people who may not be able to afford tariffs or connection charges.

We also empower communities and civil society organisations to carry out their own research into government budgets and allocations, and then demand their basic human rights to water and sanitation services.

Finally, we continue to monitor and evaluate spending to ensure improvements are progressive and sustainable.

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