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WSSCC Publishes Primer on “Public Funding for Sanitation”

Wed, 26Aug2009

WSSCC Publishes Primer on “Public Funding for Sanitation”
Latest thinking and knowledge on sanitation financing presented
14 August 2009, Geneva – In advance of the annual World Water Week in Stockholm, the
Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) today released a new
primer entitled Public Funding for Sanitation: The Many Faces of Sanitation
Subsidies, a new resource for all those who work in sanitation and who seek
sustainable and effective strategies for delivering sanitation to those with the biggest
need. The primer is available at http://www.wsscc.org.
Sanitation has a proven, positive impact on people’s health,
dignity, local environment and economic situation.
However, 2.5 billion people still lack access to improved
sanitation. Given that most of these people are extremely
poor, public subsidies for infrastructure such as toilets are
often proposed as a policy response to help improve access.
However, other commentators and experts suggest that
public subsidies fail to significantly increase access and
may indeed stifle service provision in sanitation.
Access to safe sanitation would, for some 2.5 billion
fellow citizens without it, improve their health, dignity,
local environment and economic well-being. While
most people would agree that the poor and vulnerable
should be supported to obtain sanitation services in ways that promote social
equity, are people-centered, participatory and affordable, the debate on how to do
it often becomes contentious. Some people propose infrastructure-based
hardware subsidies; others oppose them. As Public Funding for Sanitation
explains, the discussion on appropriate sanitation financing mechanisms for the
poor goes far beyond the use of hardware subsidies. It must take into account
aspects of hardware and software, capital and operational expenditure, the type
of sanitation system being built, and, ultimately, the users of the sanitation
system. This primer assists the reader in understanding the global debate on
subsidies and sanitation financing, and provides guidance on how to select the
most appropriate funding arrangements for sanitation programming in different
The 44-page primer has five parts. Part 1 is an overall introduction to public financing
and subsidies and discusses what needs to be financed and how. Part 2 examines the
debates around sanitation subsidies, summarizes the main arguments ‘for’ and ‘against’
them, and lays out general principles which can promote good financial design of
sanitation programs. Part 3 touches on financing for software activities and then goes on
to describe the ten types of hardware subsidies that are commonly used in sanitation
and briefly examines the advantages and disadvantages of each.
In Part 4, generic sanitation systems are presented and the options for financing both
their capital and operational costs are explored. Finally, in Part 5, the options and
arguments are summarized and the document concludes with some general principles
on making financing for sanitation effective.
“The need for more and better sanitation is clear; the need for more and better funding
follows,” said Carolien van der Voorden, WSSCC’s Networking and Knowledge
management Officer. “We hope that this primer is a valuable tool towards meeting the
challenges ahead.”
For further information, please contact WSSCC Communications:
Dave Trouba, Tel: +41 22 917 8409; Mobile +41 79 261 5400, E-mail: troubad@who.int
Tatiana Fedotova, +41 22 917 8674, E-mail: fedotovat@who.int
The Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) is a global multistakeholder
partnership organization that works to improve the lives of poor people.
WSSCC enhances collaboration among sector agencies and professionals around sanitation
and water supply and contributes to the broader goals of poverty eradication, health and
environmental improvement, gender equality and long-term social and economic
development. The activities undertaken by WSSCC were recognized in the United Nations
General Assembly resolution A/RES/45/181 of 21 December 1990. WSSCC has National
WASH Coalitions in 36 countries and individual members in over 140 countries.

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