Facts and Figures

Investment in safe drinking water and sanitation contributes to economic health

  • For every $1 (USD) invested in safe drinking water and sanitation, the World Health Organization estimates returns of $3-34 USD.
  • The overall economic loss in Africa alone due to lack of access to safe water and basic sanitation is estimated at USD 28.4 billion a year, or around 5% of GDP.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates the total annual cost of meeting the 2015 Millennium Development Goal target for sanitation at just over USD 9.5 billion. 
  • If estimates of current costs are correct, resources in the sanitation sector would have to be almost doubled to meet the 2015 target (although estimates of current spending probably underestimate the contributions by households to their own sanitation services). If the full cost of tertiary wastewater treatment for waste streams in urban areas is added, the total rises to USD 100 billion, the current value of total annual official development assistance.
  • Every USD invested in improved water supply and sanitation yields gains, on average, of USD4-USD12, depending on the type of intervention. 

Related themes: Investing in Infrastructure; Water, Sanitation and Health; Millennium Development Goals 

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