Raising the high-water mark for WASH aid: assessing official development assistance in accelerating progress toward the global goals for water, sanitation and hygiene

WaterAid/ Michael Bailey

With less than a decade remaining to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), reflecting on recent performance towards them can help to identify priority areas for action. In this paper, we analyse trends in international support for water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) and examine the extent to which the international community is meeting its existing commitments.

SDG 6 aims to ensure that everyone, everywhere has access to safely managed WASH by 2030. However, at current rates of progress 52 countries will not even eliminate open defecation in that timeframe, and 71 countries will not achieve universal access to basic drinking water services.

The UN-Water Global Analysis and Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking Water (GLAAS) has reported an average gap of 61% between the finance required to meet national WASH targets and the funding available. To fill this gap, important source of WASH finance for many low- and lower-middle income countries, it is vital that we reflect on the quality and quantity of WASH ODA delivered in recent years, to understand where improvements can be made.

To make a quantitative assessment of recent trends in WASH ODA, we first examine a range of global WASH commitments made between 2009 and 2019 to identify a set of common principles for WASH ODA. We then assess the performance of development partners against these principles, using data from OECD-DAC’s Creditor Reporting System.