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A Handbook for Finance Ministers – how to make public investment work

Investing in water and sanitation: clear as water

There is still a long way to go for us to reach universal access to water and sanitation. But one thing seems to be clear: the challenge is political and financial policies are key for success. To help both finance ministers and sector ministers on this important mission, the Sanitation and Water for All global partnership has created the "A Handbook for Finance Ministers – How to make public investment work" - a tool on how to make better use of public funding and mobilize new financing sources.

The Handbook is a compilation of success stories from several countries which demonstrates that this is not a matter of belief or wishful thinking. Countries with effective financial strategies have proven to be successful.


Water and Sanitation - How to make public investment work

A Handbook for Finance Ministers

This Handbook is a call to action for ministers of finance, with inspirational case studies and forward-looking sector perspectives. It is part of an initiative by the Sanitation and Water for All global partnership to provide succinct insights and curated knowledge to ministers working in the water and sanitation sector.

The Handbook is available in English, French and Spanish.

While funding needs to be at least three times higher to meet Sustainable Development Goal 6, a lack of money alone is not the root cause of the water and sanitation sector’s problems. Political decisions and policies made at ministries of finance can have a considerable positive impact on the water and sanitation sector, as demonstrated by the examples from many countries presented in this Handbook.

Finance Handbook, Page 1

Why Finance Ministers?

The current global pandemic COVID-19 and its impact on the world’s economies is irrefutable proof that solving water and sanitation challenges goes beyond the public health imperative. Now more than ever, finance ministers can look for opportunities to collaborate with their peers in other ministries – and use the examples and techniques suggested in this Handbook – to develop financial policies that contribute to lasting solutions.

Finance ministers can operate within the existing political constraints to help boost the level and effectiveness of sector financing, in close cooperation with their counterparts responsible for water, sanitation and hygiene.

Why invest in water and sanitation?

The overwhelming economic and social benefits of having universal access to water and sanitation provide a compelling case for finance ministers to take immediate action to resolve sector challenges. Benefits include reduced healthcare costs for individuals and society and greater productivity and involvement in the workplace.

Millions of children can be saved from premature death and illness related to malnutrition and waterborne diseases. Adults can live longer and healthier lives. Gains in quality of life include improved school attendance, greater privacy, and safety – especially for women, children, and the elderly – and a greater sense of dignity for all.

Spread the word!

SWA encourages partners and all those interested in financing of water, sanitation and hygiene to promote the use of the Handbook. For that purpose, SWA prepared several communication materials that highlight the key messages and case study learnings in the document.

If you have any additional requests, please contact SWA Secretariat.

Hon. Kevin Rudd

Let’s be clear: the biggest roadblock for many governments to deliver universal water and sanitation access is securing the necessary finance – whether it be for the ongoing costs of service delivery or for service expansion, quality improvement, or asset rehabilitation. This is therefore inherently a political challenge, requiring the involvement of both sector ministers and finance ministers. This Handbook is therefore designed specifically to help you in this task, including how to deliver greater efficiencies in the sector and ensure there are much needed reforms along the way.

High-level Chair, SWA
Hon. Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed

I’m really excited about this Handbook. We're seeing lessons from other countries on how we can improve the management of public financial to deliver water and sanitation. We need to do a lot more in terms of innovative finance, and this publication shows us several innovative financing mechanisms we could adopt. Investing in water and sanitation is a profitable investment.

Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Nigeria
Catarina de Albuquerque

At a time where evidence shows us clearly that access to water, sanitation and hygiene is indispensable for building ‘forward’ better, for rebuilding economies, going back to school, preventing exposure to COVID-19 and reducing the stress on often fragile and under-resourced health systems, this Handbook provides national governments and their international partners with an indispensable tool to translate good intentions into reality.