Kvinna vid vattenpump i Mali. Sida stöder Världsbankens program för vatten och sanitet i Afrika.

A woman drinking water from a water pump in Mali.

Photo: Curt Carnemark/World Bank

sustainable societal development

Water and sanitation

Updated: 18 September 2017

The countries of the world succeeded in reaching the Millennium Development Goal to halve the number of people without access to clean water. However, when it comes to the second objective – increasing access to sanitation – the situation was still bleak after the deadline in 2015.

Clean water and access to sustainable sanitation can be a matter of life or death. Although the proportion of people in poor countries with access to clean water increased from 71 per cent (1990) to around 90 per cent (2016), 663 million (2016) people in the world still lack access to good quality water. More than a third of the world's population, 2.36 billion people, also do not have access to any toilet (2016), and of these, 500 million live in India. More people have mobile phones than toilets. Goal 6 of the Global Goals on Sustainable Development states that all people in all countries should have access to safe drinking water, basic sanitation and hand washing by 2030.

One in three people in the world lacks access to a toilet or a latrine, which, together with poor hygiene, leads to diseases that every day kill 800 children (2016). Children under 15 years are particularly hit hard, and for them diseases such as diarrhoea are a greater problem than HIV and AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis altogether. People who do not have access to toilets must answer the call of nature outdoors. One effect of this is that children suffer from stunted growth as their intestinal villi are destroyed by diarrhoea and other infections that come from faecal matter in their local environment. This in turn leads to a deterioration in cognitive ability and so they get a poorer start in life. This is why access to clean water and sustainable sanitation solutions is the area that together receives more than half of our budget for contributions within the water sector.

Gender equal work with water and sanitation solutions improves the health of women and girls and increases their security by reducing the risk of assault and abuse because they do not have to go as far from home to fetch water.

An important aspect of Sida's work with water, sanitation and hygiene also covers the question of the need to remove all stigma, shame and guilt surrounding the menstruation of women and girls. Due to the lack of toilets and water, girls also miss a lot of the teaching at school. Sida's support for water and sanitation is also based on the UN resolution recognising that water and sanitation is a human right.

We support Bolivia, Mali, Burkina Faso, Kenya and, directly through bilateral support, Bangladesh and Somalia.

In Bolivia, for example, Sweden is investing to improve access to water and sanitation in rural and urban areas through the state programme PASAP. The total contribution is 40,000 new conventional connections to basic sanitation and 3,400 connections to climate-adapted sanitation systems, which are effective in that they require less water, have a low risk of leakage, which is good for the environment, and are more resistant to climate change. Through various projects, Sweden has also promoted sustainable models and alternative technologies for access to water and sanitation, including dry toilets, but has also influenced Bolivia’s national policies on water and sanitation. Women, who were previously molested when answering the call of nature, now have a greater sense of security, and this increases gender equality.

Sida's global support to water and sanitation is primarily about increasing access to sustainable water and sanitation solutions for people living in poverty. We do this by cooperating with the World Bank's Water and Sanitation Program (WSP), the Global Sanitation Fund (GSF) managed by the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), UNICEF (Water Sanitation and Hygiene - WASH) and WaterAid Sweden.

We also contribute support for global cooperation within the water sector to bodies such as the  Global Water Partnership (GWP), UN-Water, and to major international civil society organisations such as the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) and the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI).

Sweden and Sida's total budget, including the indicative (planned) support, amounts to about SEK 1.6 billion (2013 to 2017), which is and will be used to increase access to safe drinking water, and improve sanitation and hygiene, especially for women and children. 

Page owner: Communication Unit

  • tip a friend
  • share
Tip a Friend heading