Mission-critical: invest in water, sanitation and hygiene for a healthy and green economic recovery

A close up of Gita Roy (38) washing her hands. She is the leader of Golap Dol, Tengrakhali village, Kadakati, Assasuni, Satkhira District,  Khulna Division, Bangladesh, 2021
Image: WaterAid

This report, a collaboration between WaterAid and Vivid Economics, signals the need for a major international effort by governments, businesses and donors, the public and private sectors, and civil society to increase funding for climate-resilient water, sanitation and hygiene infrastructure and services.

Clean water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services are essential to protect people from infectious diseases and help them adapt to the impacts of our changing climate.

While universal access to sustainable WASH facilities underpins many of the Sustainable Development Goals, it is frequently neglected and millions of people still do not have access to these life-saving essentials.

Inadequate WASH services are responsible for as much as 10% of the global disease burden, and mean that women and girls, in particular, still miss out on school, or opportunities to earn their own income, because they bear more of the burden when it comes to unpaid care and collecting water. 

WaterAid, in collaboration with Vivid Economics, has conducted research and analysis to determine the economic case for investing in water, sanitation and hygiene, and how such investments can contribute to a healthy, just and environmentally sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The resulting report, Mission-critical, found that achieving universal access to WASH could:

  • unlock trillions of dollars of value between 2021 and 2040; safely managed water supplies can yield net benefits of $37 billion per year, while safely managed sanitation would unlock net benefits of $86 billion.
  • have substantial health and time-saving benefits for women and girls, and contribute to their economic empowerment and gender equality.
  • prevent up to 6 billion cases of diarrhoea and 12 billion cases of parasitic worms every year.

Top image: Gita Roy, leader of Golap Dol, Tengrakhali village, Khulna Division, Bangladesh washes her hands.