OECD Observer
Water aid

Development aid for water supply and sanitation projects has risen in recent years after a decline in the late 1990s. Considering the importance of safe water, perhaps it hasn’t risen far enough. In 2007-08, OECD Development Assistance Committee countries committed on average $5.1 billion in bilateral annual aid to the water supply and sanitation sector, 50% up on 2003-04 in real terms. When combined with aid from multilateral agencies, the total was $6.6 billion. Over the 2003-08 period, bilateral aid to water increased by an annual average of 15%, while multilateral aid rose 3% annually. Still, for DAC countries, aid to the water supply and sanitation sector rose to just 7% of all aid commitments in 2007-08, only slightly up from 6% in 2003-04.

Water aid is provided by only a small number of large donors. Japan has been the biggest donor, accounting for 25% of total aid to the sector in 2007-08, followed by the International Development Association of the World Bank, accounting for 15%, and Germany at 11%. Most Japanese aid, and nearly half of German aid, was in the form of loans for infrastructure projects in a handful of countries. However, many countries where safe water supplies are still not widely available received no aid to that sector at all.

See also “Aid flow”, in OECD Observer No 254, March 2006 and “Water aid and development: Improving the flow”, in OECD Observer No. 236, March 2003.

Visit www.oecd.org/dac and www.oecd.org/water

©OECD Observer No 278 March 2010