Public Funding for Sanitation. The many faces of sanitation subsidies

Barbara Evans, Carolien van der Voorden, Andy Peal
Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC)

Sanitation is one of the most significant development challenges of our time. Over 700 million Indians are forced to defecate in the open, and in Africa the number of people without sanitation has actually grown in the past decade. There is little doubt that better financing is required, along with better ways of spending the money, addressing what really needs to be done. This distinct lack of funds means a clear understanding of the entire pattern of public financial assistance and subsidies available is crucial.

In a response to requests from our National WASH Coalitions, WSSCC compiled this resource for all those who work in sanitation and seek sustainable and effective strategies for delivering sanitation to those who need it most. Pulling together the latest thinking and knowledge on sanitation financing, this primer aims to clarify the terminology and language used in the debate about public financing of sanitation and subsidies in particular. All the main areas are covered in the following areas:

Part 1, ‘How does Public Funding of Sanitation Work?’, discusses what needs to be financed and the sources of financing for sanitation programmes as a whole, introducing the concepts and principles by which public funds can be allocated.

Part 2, ‘The Debate on Sanitation Subsidies’, summarizes the main arguments ‘for’ and ‘against’ subsidies (particularly hardware subsidies), before offering details on the general principles which can promote good financial design of sanitation programmes.

Part 3, ‘Types of Subsidies’, looks at the financing available for software activities. The ten types of hardware subsidies commonly used and examples of their application are detailed with insights into their advantages and disadvantages.

Part 4, ‘Smart Financing of Sanitation Systems’, takes four generic sanitation systems and their technical options to explore what the real-life options for financing both their capital and operational costs are, considering private, public and blended financing in each case.

These four parts combine to deliver an understanding of the global debate on subsidies and sanitation financing, providing guidance on how to select the most appropriate funding arrangements in different situations.

About the publisher

The Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) is a global multi-stakeholder partnership and membership organization that works to save lives and improve livelihoods. It does so by enhancing collaboration among sector agencies and professionals who are working to provide sanitation to the 2.6 billion people without a clean, safe toilet, and the 884 million people without affordable, clean drinking water close at hand. Through its work, WSSCC contributes to the broader goals of poverty eradication, health and environmental improvement, gender equality and long-term social and economic development. It has coalitions in 36 countries, members in more than 160 countries, and a Geneva-based Secretariat which is hosted by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS).

Last updated: Mon, 11/15/2010 - 12:01