Ending the water, sanitation and hygiene crisis together: policy priorities for accelerating progress

Fatimata Coulibaly, 29, a member of the Benkadi women's group who is in charge of water monitoring and management, taking a reading of the water meter of the water tower, Kakounouso, Samabogo, Circle of Bla, Segou Region, Mali, February 2019.
Image: WaterAid/ Basile Ouedraogo

Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) are vital to economic development, improving health, tackling gender inequality and building resilience to climate change. Our new policy paper sets out a series of recommendations for countries working to accelerate progress towards sustainable and safe WASH services for all.

Over the past 20 years, we have seen that real progress is possible when WASH is prioritised in national development. Yet, we are halfway through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) period and progress is still unacceptably slow.

The next decade will see a continued rise in population and rural-urban migration, and climate change, political instability, disease outbreaks and economic downturns pose additional threats to health, water security, food security, the economy, gender equality and social development. Ensuring sustainable and safe WASH is increasingly critical to building people’s resilience to these threats.

Rapid progress happens when WASH policies and programmes have the full backing and leadership of national governments; support from development partners and the private sector can accelerate progress even further. Our recommendations address the key barriers to accelerating access to sustainable and safe WASH:

  • Prioritise WASH as a top national priority with highest level government leadership. 
  • Establish clear institutional arrangements for WASH. 
  • Increase WASH finances and sector efficiency. 
  • Make gender equality and social inclusion central to WASH. 
  • Mainstream WASH within health policy and programming to improve public health. 
  • Champion the delivery of WASH as a service. 
  • Prioritise and resource WASH and water security to strengthen resilience to climate change, at all levels. 
  • Establish strong accountability mechanisms and regulation. 

Our vision is of a world where everyone, everywhere has safe and sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene.

Read our policy recommendations to help make this a reality.

Top image: Fatimata Coulibaly, 29, who is in charge of water monitoring and management for the Benkadi women's group, takes a water meter reading in Kakounouso, Samabogo, Mali.