Funding to water and sanitation sluggish – report

Ho, Countries are not increasing spending fast enough to meet the water and sanitation targets under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), says a new report.

The report published Thursday by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on behalf of UN Water – the United Nations inter-agency coordination mechanism for all freshwater-related issues, and made available to the Ghana News Agency said.

Dr Maria Neira, WHO Director, Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health, said, “Today, almost two billion people use a source of drinking-water contaminated with faeces, putting them at risk of contracting cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio”.

“Contaminated drinking-water is estimated to cause more than 500 000 diarrhoeal deaths each year and is a major factor in several neglected tropical diseases, including intestinal worms, schistosomiasis, and trachoma,” she said.

The report said many countries will not meet global aspirations of universal access to safe drinking-water and sanitation unless steps are taken to use financial resources more efficiently and increase efforts to identify new sources of funding.

According to the UN-Water Global Analysis and Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking-Water (GLAAS) 2017 report, countries have increased their budgets for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) at an annual average rate of 4.9 percent over the last three years. Yet, 80 percent of countries report that WASH financing is still insufficient to meet nationally-defined targets.

It said in many developing countries, the current national coverage targets are based on achieving access to basic infrastructure, which may not always provide continuously safe and reliable services.

Planned investments have yet to take into account much more ambitious SDG targets, which aim for universal access to safely managed water and sanitation services by 2030.

It said in order to meet the SDG global targets, the World Bank estimates that investments in infrastructure need to triple to US $114 billion per year – a figure which does not include operating and maintenance costs.

While the funding gap is vast, 147 countries have previously demonstrated the ability to mobilize the resources required to meet the Millennium Development Goal target of halving the proportion of people without an improved source of water, and 95 met the corresponding target for sanitation.

The report said the much more ambitious SDG targets will require collective, coordinated and innovative efforts to mobilize even higher levels of funding from all sources: taxes, tariffs (payments and labour from households), and transfers from donors.

“This is a challenge we have the ability to solve,” says Guy Ryder, Chair of UN-Water and Director-General of the International Labour Organization.

“Increased investments in water and sanitation can yield substantial benefits for human health and development, generate employment and ensure that we leave no one behind.”

It said water and sanitation Official Development Assistance (ODA) disbursements increased from US$ 6.3 to US$ 7.4 billion from 2012 to 2015.

However, aid commitments for water and sanitation, globally, have declined since 2012 from US$ 10.4 billion to US$ 8.2 billion in 2015.

Similarly, aid commitment for water and sanitation dipped from US$ 3.8 billion to US$ 1.7 billion in Sub-Saharan Africa from 2012-2015.

Due to the multi-year nature of commitments, if commitments were to continue to decrease, it is likely that future disbursements would also decrease.

The report said extending WASH services to vulnerable groups is a policy priority, but implementation is lagging.

It said increasing and sustaining WASH access for vulnerable groups will not only be critical for achieving SDG 6, but also for SDG 3 on ensuring healthy lives and promoting the well-being for all ages.

Source: Ghana News Agency