Benefits of Investing in Water and Sanitation
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Benefits of Investing in Water and Sanitation

An OECD Perspective

The provision of water supply, sanitation and wastewater services generates substantial benefits for public health, the economy and the environment. Benefit-to-cost ratios can be as high as 7 to 1 for basic water and sanitation services in developing countries.

Wastewater treatment interventions, for example, generate significant benefits for public health, the environment and for certain economic sectors such as fisheries, tourism and property markets.

The full magnitude of the benefits of water services is seldom considered for a number of reasons, including the difficulty in quantifying important non-economic benefits such as non-use values, dignity, social status, cleanliness and overall well-being. Also, information about the benefits of water services is usually hidden in the technical literature, where it remains invisible to key decision-makers in ministries.

This report draws together and summarises existing information on the benefits of water and sanitation.

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Publication Date :
17 Mar 2011
DOI :
10.1787/9789264100817-en
 
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Foreword You do not have access to this content

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Author(s):
OECD
Pages :
3–4
DOI :
10.1787/9789264100817-1-en

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An adequate and dependable source of water is needed to sustain human life, future economic development, and the integrity of ecosystems. About 884 million people lack access to safe water supplies (although the number of people without access to water in their homes is considerably higher) and 2.6 billion are without access to basic sanitation (JMP, 2010). Approximately 10% of the global burden of disease worldwide could be prevented with improvements to water, sanitation and hygiene and better water resource management worldwide. The burden of water-related diseases falls disproportionately on developing countries and particularly on children under five, with 30% of deaths of these children attributable to inadequate access to water and sanitation. Wastewater from industrial and domestic uses often reach the environment untreated or insufficiently treated, resulting in major impacts on surface waters and associated ecosystems.
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