Why water & sanitation systems are vital for the economy

This year’s World Water Day, we celebrated the value of water, which at first might be a given: after all, water is the basis of all life. Without water we have no health, wealth, equality, or education.

But, do governments adequately prioritize and invest in clean water? The answer, in far too many parts of the world, is a resounding no. As an international community, we are too often blind to the huge cost of failing to serve so many people with the most basic but crucial of services.

Globally, there are still 2.2 billion people without access to safe drinking water and 4.2 billion who don’t have a safe place to go the toilet. Reaching all these people needs three times the current levels of investment, according to the World Bank — to meet the scale of the challenge. However, this is not a plea for charity, this is a wake-up call.

The current global water and sanitation crisis is a story of colossal, rapidly increasing, unmet demand leading to colossal, rapidly increasing costs. Meeting Sustainable Development Goal 6 – water and sanitation for all by 2030 – is not a burden but a massive opportunity.

To find concrete solutions to the financing gap, the partnership Sanitation and Water for All – a global platform for achieving the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH)-related targets — is working with Finance Ministers across the globe to focus on the opportunity for economic growth and sustainable development, through the expansion of water and sanitation services.

With the right level of investment, benefits could include an estimated 1.5% growth in gross domestic product, and a $4.30 return for every dollar invested. This is due to the likely reduced health care costs and potential for increased productivity. That’s a rate of return that any investor would wish for. Read more…

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