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Funding A Water Secure Future

Funding a Water Secure Future

The World Bank's groundbreaking new report, "Funding a Water-Secure Future: An Assessment of Public Spending," quantifies for the first time how much governments spend on water and the size of the financing and funding gaps that must close to meet people's needs.

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* Translations coming soon

Annual spending on water is $164.6 billion in developing countries, which amounts to roughly 0.5 percent of their GDP. While roughly 91 percent of the annual spending on water above comes from the public sector, including public spending by the government and the SOEs; only less than 2 percent comes from the private sector. Countries need to increase their spending in the WSS subsector by US$131.4 to US$140.8 billion annually—almost tripling current expenditure levels.

This global average, however, masks the stark heterogeneity across different regions and country groups. Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia face the largest spending gaps. The report identifies critical weaknesses in the sector, such as low budget execution rates and inefficiencies. To bridge these gaps and attract private investment, the report emphasizes the necessity for governments to enhance spending efficiency, catalyzing long term financing, and reforming the water sector towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals for water access by 2030.


  • To achieve the SDG targets for universal access to safe water and sanitation, the world is experiencing an annual spending shortfall of between US$131.4 billion and US$140.8 billion.
  • Overall, annual spending in the water sector for developing countries is about US$164.6 billion, which is just about 0.5% of the total GDP.
  • Despite large spending gaps, the water sector is not able to spend all the allocated budget. The annual budget execution gap is about 72%.


To overcome all these deficits, Funding a Water-Secure Future underscores the importance of governments spending more and better. These and other measures outlined in the report will go a long way toward achieving a more water-secure future that the world needs. Key recommendations include:

Increase budget execution rates through enhancing the sector’s absorptive capacity by reforming public investment management and public financial management.

Raise the productivity of public spending in the sector by improving efficiency at various levels.

Reduce the inefficiencies of water service providers by prioritizing cost-effective utility operations and improving investment planning for infrastructure development and technology upgrades.

Minimize disparities in access to water services by targeting investments and water subsidies to poorer and rural communities.

Catalyze the flow of long-term private and international finance by using risk-pooling arrangements, public sector guarantees, and catalytic capital to invest more, and more often, in water resources.

Implement reforms including improving cost recovery and demand management; developing government capacity and human capital; and strengthening data access, transparency, and communications.

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