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Published on: 19/11/2014

Every aspect of WASH service provision in developed countries, like the Netherlands, France, the UK or even the USA directly or indirectly involves public money. However, discussing the role of public finance for WASH in developing countries remains unfashionable when compared with market solutions, repayable finance, supporting bottom of pyramid entrepreneurs and micro-credit.

The proposed Sustainable Development Goal on water goes beyond providing universal access. It links the water and sanitation sector with the broader integrated water resources management and recognises that sanitation services go beyond the construction of latrines and needs to address the safe final disposal of waste. The new goal is a step up in the sector's ambition and translates into water and sanitation services for everyone forever which IRC has been advocating for with partners in countries and internationally.

Embracing the goal of providing water and sanitation for everyone forever will require a profound change in the way the sector works and is funded. It will take strong and responsive governments, civil society and private sector. Two of the main implications that the new goal has for the sector are that we need to shift from piecemeal projects to system-wide change and that this must go hand in hand with public finance.

IRC's event explored the complementarity between public and private finance, actions that can be taken to support public revenue generation in developing countries  and lessons from the health sector.  Download the event programme

IRC sees governments as having a key role in smoothing the inevitable equities of the market. Together with WSUP and Trémolet Consulting we are launching an initiative to raise the profile of public financing for WASH and learning how it can be applied for maximum impact.


- Catarina Fonseca, Head of innovation and international programme, IRC 

- Guy Norman, Head of Evaluation, Research and Learning at Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP)

- Sjef Ernes, Managing Director Aqua for All

- Katina Gikas, Co-founder, Water Tech Trading B.V.

- Pieter Walhof, Director and member of the Supervisory Board, PharmAcess Fund

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