Last Update 22:7
Tuesday, 12 November 2019

States spend $320 billion annually on water, sanitation subsidies: World Bank

Doaa A.Moneim , Saturday 31 Aug 2019
File Photo: World Bank (Photo: Reuters)
Views: 1917
Views: 1917

New World Bank research shows that governments across the world spend around $320 billion a year on water and sanitation subsidies, excluding China and India, but that funding often doesn't reach those who need it most.

According to a new report, this equates to about half a percent of these countries’ combined GDP. If only low and middle-income economies are considered, that figure rises to between 1.5 and 2 percent.

“That’s over $300 billion of public money which makes up the difference between how much it costs to provide water and sanitation services and the money that comes in from users. These subsidies cover operations expenditures such as staffing costs, maintaining existing infrastructure, and infrastructure rehabilitation and expansion,” reads the report, Doing More with Less - Smarter Subsidies for Water Supply and Sanitation.

Water and sanitation subsidies can consume a substantial amount of a country’s public resources, the report found.

But subsidies frequently end up disproportionately benefitting upper-income groups, leaving poorer families without the support they need.

“That’s because, as currently constituted, existing subsidies are poorly targeted and don’t sufficiently help poor households,” the research found.

On average, across the ten lower and middle-income countries examined, 56 percent of subsidies end up in the pockets of the richest 20 percent and only 6 percent of subsidies find their way to the poorest 20 percent.

“Subsidies can be powerful and progressive tools in delivering water and sanitation when they are designed in smart and targeted ways and implemented effectively,” argues the report.

Subsidies have a vital role to play in this regard. Making water and sanitation affordable for families can prevent needless deaths and transform lives, the World Bank argues.

“Subsidies that are designed in smart and targeted ways and implemented effectively can help achieve access to adequate and equitable water and sanitation, helping people live productive lives and escape the poverty trap,” reads the report.

Short link:


Ahram Online welcomes readers' comments on all issues covered by the site, along with any criticisms and/or corrections. Readers are asked to limit their feedback to a maximum of 1000 characters (roughly 200 words). All comments/criticisms will, however, be subject to the following code
  • We will not publish comments which contain rude or abusive language, libelous statements, slander and personal attacks against any person/s.
  • We will not publish comments which contain racist remarks or any kind of racial or religious incitement against any group of people, in Egypt or outside it.
  • We welcome criticism of our reports and articles but we will not publish personal attacks, slander or fabrications directed against our reporters and contributing writers.
  • We reserve the right to correct, when at all possible, obvious errors in spelling and grammar. However, due to time and staffing constraints such corrections will not be made across the board or on a regular basis.

© 2010 Ahram Online.