Water, Sanitation MDG Off Track – World Bank, Water Aid

By Ivy Mungcal 28 June 2011

A boy gets water from a tap at a camp in Kibati. Photo by: Julien Harneis / CC BY-SA

The U.N. Millennium Development Goal on expanding access to water and sanitation services by 2015 is likely to be missed as donors increasingly shrink away from funding water projects and are instead focusing more on health and education-related initiatives, according to new research by the World Bank and Water Aid.

“We are way off track, and 1 billion people will be let down. The aid flows are very small compared with what is needed,” the Guardian quotes John Garret, a senior policy analyst at Water Aid, a U.K.-based non-governmental organization focused on providing water and sanitation services to people in developing countries.

Among those who will be hardest hit by this projected failure to meet the MDG on water and sanitation are women and girls, the World Bank said in a report it released in May, the Guardian notes.

Water Aid is due to publish a new report next month that is based on data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The Guardian says the NGO’s analysis has shown that water and sanitation programs shrank in number as compared to the total projects funded by donors in the last 20 years.

“In the mid-1990s, water and sanitation made up about 8 percent of global financial aid, putting it ahead of issues such as reproductive health and population growth,” the Guardian says. “But between 2007 and 2009 – the last year for which comprehensive figures are available – it was just over 5 percent.”

Julia Bucknall, the World Bank’s water chief, said this decline maybe due to donors’ and the public perception of water and sanitation as an unglamorous policy area.

“It just does not attract donor funding,” Bucknall told the Guardian. “It seems to be easier for people to talk about disease, and ignore sanitation.”

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About the author

Ivy mungcal 400x400
Ivy Mungcal

As senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributes to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.


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