Functionality of wastewater treatment plants in low and middle-income countries

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 includes targets to achieve universal access to safely managed sanitation and to halve the proportion of untreated wastewater.

Wastewater treatment receives considerable amounts of official development assistance funding from donors. However, in many contexts, poor functionality and sustainability of wastewater treatment plants are recurring issues, and there is limited evidence on the extent and causes of the problems.

This desk review, commissioned by WaterAid, aims to address this gap by describing the flows of official development assistance to wastewater treatment plants. It synthesises the evidence on functionality rates of such plants and analyses the causes of poor functionality, successful experiences and the response needed from governments and donors.