Improving access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene influences many other development sectors, such as health, nutrition, food security, education, and gender equality. Water can also have a profound effect on a developing country’s economy — the World Health Organization estimates that for every dollar invested in safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene, there is a $4 return for the local economy.
Despite a consensus on clean water’s potential to vastly improve the lives of many of the world’s poorest, there are still nearly a billion people living without access to safe drinking water. The problem is urgent — the World Economic Forum Global Risks Report 2015 rated water crises, which include everything from water mismanagement to drought and the spread of water-borne infectious diseases, as the greatest risk facing the world in terms of impact.
Successfully hitting the sixth sustainable development goal — which is about ensuring the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all — will require adequate and diversified financing.
This means at least doubling current official development assistance to the WASH sector by 2020. And while foreign aid is expected to remain the most vital source of funding for water projects and initiatives, especially for least developed countries and fragile states, there are alternative sources available.